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 relieving the pain and the congestion. 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.
As a second line of defense against your 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. Since 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 your 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.