How Do I Treat a Sinus Ear Ache?

Infected sinuses can cause ear ache.
Article Details
  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 11 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Infected sinuses tend to swell and become congested with mucus, in turn exerting painful pressure on nearby body parts such as the middle ear. If you are suffering from a sinus-related ear ache, you may be experiencing extreme discomfort in one or both of your ears. Luckily, treating a sinus ear ache is often fairly simple. The two main aims in treating this condition are pain relief and decongestion. If these objectives are not successfully achieved with the use of over-the-counter drugs, your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics to eliminate bacteria from the sinuses.

Your sinus ear ache is likely due to inflammation and congestion in the sinuses closest to your ears, known as the sphenoid sinuses. When the sphenoid sinuses become swollen and blocked, pressure is exerted on the small components of the nearby middle ear, causing discomfort or even pain. To treat this discomfort, begin by taking an over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, as directed on the product’s packaging. This medication should ease inflammation in the sinuses, thereby relieving pressure to the middle ear. In addition, it should temporarily inhibit your body’s pain receptors, further reducing your discomfort.

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As a second line of defense against your sinus ear ache, you may wish to take a decongestant. This type of medication causes the blood vessels in the sinuses to constrict, reducing blockages and, by extension, relieving pressure to the ears. Non-prescription decongestants are widely available in liquid, tablet, and nasal spray forms. As extended use of nasal sprays can cause severe, uncomfortable drying of the tissues within the nose, you may want to first try a liquid or tablet decongestant, and switch to a spray only if the oral medication proves ineffective.

Some sinus ailments are stubborn, and you may find that your sinus ear ache persists even after several days of treatment with pain relievers and decongestants. In this case, your sinus ear ache may be due to a bacterial infection of the sinuses. You should consider consulting a physician, who may prescribe a course of antibiotics if she determines that your sinus irritation is indeed due to a bacterial infection. As always, you should not begin taking antibiotics without a doctor’s recommendation, and should continue taking your prescription until you have finished it. Both taking antibiotics when they are not needed and failing to finish a course of antibiotics can lead to the buildup of drug-resistant bacteria, making future bacterial illnesses more difficult to treat.

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Discuss this Article

OeKc05
Post 4

@Oceana – Many people don't realize how important finishing a course of antibiotics is. I'm glad you encouraged your husband to continue using the drops as long as the doctor recommended.

My brother had a bad sinus ear ache caused by an bacterial ear infection, and he refused to take the whole week's worth of antibiotics. He said that they made everything taste funny and nauseated him, so he quit taking them after only three days.

His infection returned, and the inside of his ear swelled up so much that he could not hear out of it. He was in immense pain in the middle of the night, and I had to take him to the emergency room. This huge hospital bill could have been avoided, if only he had followed his doctor's instructions.

Oceana
Post 3

My husband got a bad sinus and ear infection last summer. It was so intense that it caused him to miss work.

He was trying to “be a man about it” and tough it out, but on the day he had to call in sick, he realized that he needed help. I drove him to the doctor, because his ear ache was so intense that it would have distracted him from driving.

The doctor gave him some powerful antibiotic ear drops. Even with his insurance, they were pretty expensive, but she said they were extremely effective. I made him keep taking them even after the pain went away, because I know how infections can get stronger and come back on you if you don't.

cloudel
Post 2

@kylee07drg – Prescription decongestants are the only kind that help to relieve my sinus ear aches. Most over-the-counter kinds make my heart beat too fast, and sometimes, I have even felt it skip beats after taking the medicine.

To get the kind that doesn't negatively affect my nervous system, I have to see a doctor. I don't take them for very long, though, because they dry out my nose terribly. I just take them long enough to relieve my ear ache.

When I have an infection, I feel a lot of sinus ear pressure. This in itself is painful, but the occasional stabbing pains are unbearable. A prescription decongestant is powerful enough to relieve me from this condition within a week, and I take ibuprofen to deal with the pain in the meantime.

kylee07drg
Post 1

Sinus ear aches are the worst! If I get one in the summer, I usually assume it is due to pool water trapped in my ear, but if I get one during the spring or winter, I know that it is probably due to allergies.

The pain is usually sharp and comes in waves. If it is mild, it will come and go, and I can live with it by taking a decongestant until it is gone.

However, if it becomes increasingly painful and persists, I have to go to my doctor. She always gives me antibiotics and a prescription-strength decongestant, and I recover rather quickly. This is the best way to handle it, but of course, it is more expensive than treating it with over-the-counter medicine.

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