Diagnosing and Treating Ear Pain Online
Ear pain is a common symptom for many illnesses, including:
- Middle ear infections
- Swimmer's ear
- Eustachian tube dysfunction
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
- Bullous Myringitis
- Trauma and more.
Ear pain is different than an ear infection. Online, we can treat some causes of ear pain, but not all. Specifically, we cannot treat a middle ear infection online because as of now, we cannot look at the ear drum without an otoscope to confirm the diagnosis. Middle ear infections are the most common type of ear infection and typically are caused by bacteria and viruses. Bacteria ear infections require an antibioitic to clear them and viral ear infections should be treated with supportive care.
During a video consult on Amwell, your doctor will ask you a series of targeted questions to determine if your symptoms are bacterial or viral. Then your physician will proceed to determine the best treatment plan for you. This is based on duration, severity of symptoms and your medical history. Questions about your work and home environment may be discussed as well.
Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor will go over the risk and benefits of the various treatment plans. The biggest obstacle will most likely be managing the pain. In many cases, pain control is all that is needed while your body fights off the infection. Depending on the cause and severity of the infection, your treatment plan may include:
- A warm compress
- Over-the-counter anti inflammatories
- Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin IB, etc.
- Tylenol/Acetaminophen if fever is a symptom
- Ear drops
- Ear wax removal
- A prescription for antibiotics
- A referral to a specialist
Note: Middle ear infections need to be treated in person with your primary care physician. Online, we can treat swimmers' ear and we can help treat eustachian tube dysfunction. Diagnosing a patient will be based on history and certain physicial signs.