Ear Pain

Ear pain is a fairly common problem, especially in children. The cause is usually an infectious inflammation of external ear canal or middle ear.


Inflammation of the middle ear

This is a very painful condition that occurs most often by children. Infection affects the cavity of the middle ear behind the eardrum and its usual causative agents are bacteria. In addition to very strong earache, body temperature is elevated and general infectious symptoms are present (fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, etc). An examination by otolaryngologist is necessary. Therapy may be conservative by antibiotics prescription, but it is more efficient to puncture the eardrum by a needle to evacuate pus from middle ear cavity. The procedure is very painful, but it is followed by very quick and pleasant relief and improvement of general condition.

Inflammation of outer ear canal

Outer ear canal is a tube between outer ear and the eardrum. The inflammation typically occurs in individuals who swim and dive in water contaminated with bacteria. It may also occur because of inadequately high accumulation of earwax that block the ear canal. Again, an otolaryngological examination is necessary, blocked ear canal can be flushed out (annoying but also relief-associated procedure) and in suspected bacterial infection antibiotics can be administered.

Other causes

Earache occurs by head injuries and also by sensitive individuals staying in a cold wind without proper headgear. Relatively rare cause maybe a local cancer irritates nerves leading information about skin and tissue sensitivity including pain sensations.

Diagnostic approach

In mot cases examination by an otolaryngologist is sufficient in diagnostics and treatment. The doctor uses special tools to provide a view of the ear canal and eardrum. If the patient has not only earache, but also complains about other symptoms like balance disorders and dizziness, a neurological examination should be considered. That's because there is a close anatomical relationship between auditory and vestibular system.

Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Contact: jiri.stefanek@seznam.cz
 Sources: basic text sources