Can an Earache Cause a Headache?
Published January 10, 2023
Headaches are incredibly common. It can occur anytime, but it’s more likely to hit you when you’re suffering from other health issues. If you have a fever, for instance, there’s a good chance you’ll get a headache. The same applies to when you catch a cold, get the flu, or have other minor health disorders.
In these cases, it’s relatively easy to recognize that you have a headache. However, the same cannot be said for when you have an earache. After all, chances are you’ll assume the pain is coming from your ear.
In addition, unlike fever, cold, flu, and other health problems, experts have yet to establish that an earache can cause headaches. So, can an earache cause a headache? Read on to find out.
Can an Earache Cause a Headache?
No, an earache cannot cause a headache. The reason why a headache often follows an earache is that they’re both symptoms of the same health disorder. An ear infection, for example, will likely cause you to get an earache in its early stages. The headache will then come as a later symptom.
When that happens, it may seem like the earache caused the headache, but it’d be more accurate to say that the ear infection caused both the headache and the earache. The same applies to other conditions.
What Causes Headache and Earache at the Same Time?
An ear infection is the most common health issue that causes earache, but there are more. Interestingly, most of these health issues have a relatively high chance of causing headaches as well. These include:
- Sinusitis is a condition in which the lining of your sinuses becomes inflamed.
As a result, the mucus that should have gotten coughed up or swallowed without you noticing becomes stuck in your throat or sinuses. The build-up then causes pain in your nasal regions.
Common symptoms of sinusitis include headache, facial pain, and ear pressure.
- Eustachian tube dysfunction is a relatively common health issue in which the Eustachian tubes that connect the back of your throat to your middle ear get blocked with fluid or mucus.
When that happens, you may hear muffled sounds and experience ear pain and headache.
- Meniere’s disease is a rare condition believed to be the result of pressure deep inside your ears. Unfortunately, experts have yet to find conclusive evidence regarding the cause of this disorder.
However, we do know that it’s a condition that may worsen the longer it lasts.
One way to resolve the issue quickly is to be on the lookout for its symptoms. These include a ringing sound inside your ears (tinnitus), a feeling that your surrounding is spinning or moving (vertigo), partial hearing loss, pressure deep inside the ear, and, very rarely, headaches.
- Allergies, as you may already know, occur when you’re exposed to a substance you cannot tolerate. These are known as allergens and can often be found in dust, pollen, insects, animals, foods, and medications, to name a few. Allergies can be severe or mild, depending on the person.
When your allergies are triggered, you may experience a variety of issues, from mild to severe, such as headaches, ear pain, sneezing, runny nose, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms.
- Migraines are best known as the condition associated with a severe headache. The condition is typically caused by stress or an excess of sensory stimuli. Examples of stimuli that may induce migraines include flashing lights, loud sounds, strong perfume, and secondhand smoke.
When you get a migraine, apart from the common headache symptom, you may also experience other issues. These may include vomiting, nausea, sound or light sensitivity, and rarely, ear pain.
Knowing how your health problem came to be can go a long way since the ideal remedy would generally depend on the cause of the issue. But interestingly, the treatments for each condition have a bit of overlap.
Best Remedies for Earache and Headache
If you’re suffering from ear pain and headache at the same time, it’s advisable to first identify the cause and figure out the remedy for that cause. For instance, if you’ve determined that a migraine caused your earache and headache, you must specifically look for remedies for migraine.
With that said, let’s take a look at the remedies for the conditions mentioned in the previous section.
1. Over-the-Counter Medications
Though they won’t necessarily get rid of the condition, over-the-counter (OTC) medications should be pretty effective at providing you with temporary relief. And since the symptoms of the aforementioned conditions tend to last for only a short while, temporary relief is more than enough for these issues.
Decongestants and antihistamines are two of the best OTC medications for any condition that causes earaches and headaches at the same time. They’re handy if you don’t know the cause of the problem.
If you know what issue you’re currently dealing with, then it would be better to look for a more specific medicine. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are great if you have sinusitis, Eustachian tube dysfunction, or a migraine, cetirizine and fexofenadine are great for allergies, and meclizine is great for Meniere’s disease.
This remedy works for all the aforementioned conditions.
2. Saline Nasal Spray
If you’ve determined that you have sinusitis, and that’s what’s causing the earache and headache, consider using a saline nasal spray. This method involves getting a spray, filling it with water mixed with salt, and spraying it into your nose several times daily to rinse the nasal passageways.
In doing so, you can help drain the mucus that has built up in your nasal regions. It may also reduce the inflammation in the nasal passageways since salt is supposedly an anti-inflammatory substance.
Either way, that should reduce the built-up mucus, thereby giving your ear and head time to relax. Keep in mind, though, that this remedy only works if your earache and headache are caused by sinusitis.
It’s no secret that probiotics can help boost your immune response. Since earaches and headaches often come as a result of ear infections, allergies, and inflammation, most of which are caused by a weak immune system, experts hypothesize that probiotics should be able to relieve earaches and headaches.
This remedy works best for when your earache and headache are caused by sinusitis.s
2. Chewing, Swallowing, and Yawning
The Eustachian tube is usually closed. It only opens when you yawn or swallow and chew food. The problem is when the tubes are inflamed, it becomes easier for them to get stuck in their closed position.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s possible to open them, even if they’re inflamed.
It’s just harder. That means if you chew, swallow, or yawn at a much greater frequency, you can loosen up the Eustachian tube enough for it to open. Of course, this isn’t guaranteed, but it’s worth a try. Also, it’s worth noting that this works only if the earache or headache is due to Eustachian tube dysfunction.
When To See a Doctor
There’s a point at which, rather than looking for ways to treat your earache or headache, it’s best to go see a doctor immediately since the issue is likely more severe than you initially thought. That’s usually when:
- you’ve been dizzy for a long time,
- the headache is excruciating,
- there is swelling around your ears,
- the facial muscles on one side of your face are dropping,
- the headache is accompanied by a fever or stiff neck,
- the headache becomes incredibly severe over the span of a few seconds, or
- you’re suffering from the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.
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About The Author
Lenard Arceo is an experienced writer who enjoys learning to code in his spare time. He has a fascination with health and nutrition and enjoys sharing his knowledge and research. He is proud of his commitment to communicating factual content that has helped his readers with life changing choices over the years.