.j possible cause An infection of the ear canal is a possibility. The infection may be a localized problem, such as a boil, or it may affect the whole of the outer ear. Consult your doctor.

action Your doctor will examine your ear and may clean it out with a cotton-wool covered probe. He or she may also prescribe ear drops containing an antifungal and/or corticosteroid drug.

i possible cause Barotrauma, damage to the eardrum resulting from a pressure difference between the middle and outer ear, is possible, especially if you already had a blocked nose.

action Try blowing through your nose while pinching the nostrils closed. In many cases this action brings relief. If the pain persists for more than 24 hours, consult your doctor. To prevent similar problems from occurring in the future, follow the self-help advice on preventing ear problems caused by flying (below).

Do you have a blocked-up feeling in your ear that cannot be cleared by swallowing?

Did the earache begin during or immediately after a flight on an aircraft?

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