Ear Nose | Otorhinolaryngology | Earache (Symptom)


Otalgia or an earache is ear pain. Primary otalgia is ear pain that originates inside the ear. Referred otalgia is ear pain that originates from outside the ear. Otalgia is not always associated with ear disease. It may be caused by several other conditions, such as impacted teeth, sinus disease, inflamed tonsils, infections in the nose and pharynx, throat cancer, and occasionally as a sensory aura that precedes a migraine.


The most frequent cause is acute otitis media, which results in severe, stabbing pain. Another common cause of earache is otitis external. The pain may be accompanied by irritation and a discharge of pus. Intermittent earache may accompany dental problems, tonsillitis, throat cancer, or pain in the jaw or neck muscles.

Ear pain can be caused by disease in the external, middle, or inner ear, but the three are indistinguishable in terms of the pain experienced.

External ear pain may be: mechanical (trauma, foreign bodies such as hairs, insects or cotton buds), infective (otitis externa): Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas, Candida, herpes zoster, or viral Myringitis

Middle ear pain may be: mechanical (barotrauma (often iatrogenic), eustachian tube obstruction leading to acute otitis media) and inflammatory / infective: acute otitis media, mastoiditis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To determine the cause of earache, the ear is inspected analgesic drugs may relieve the pain, and antibiotic drugs may be given for infection. Pus in the outer ear may be removed by suction. Pus in the middle ear may be drained by myringotomy.


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