Earache: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Pain in the ear can occur because of conditions within the ear, the ear canal, or affecting the visible portion of the ear (the pinna). Acute middle ear infection, medically called acute otitis media, is inflammation of the middle ear and is the most frequent diagnosis in sick children in the U.S. The eustachian tube is shorter in children than adults which allows easy entry of bacteria and viruses into the middle ear, resulting in acute otitis media.

Infection of the ear canal (otitis externa) is also called swimmer's ear. Otitis externa is typically caused by bacterial infection.

Earache can also be caused by pain and inflammation of the outer portion of the ear (the pinna).

A child with a draining ear should not fly (or swim).

Also spelled "ear ache"

Related Symptoms & Signs

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/6/2017
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