Ear pain, also known as earache, is pain in the ear. Primary ear pain is pain that originates from the ear. Secondary ear pain is a type of referred pain, meaning that the source of the pain differs from the location where the pain is felt.
Most causes of ear pain are non-life-threatening, Primary ear pain is more common than secondary ear pain, and it is often due to infection or injury. The conditions that cause secondary (referred) ear pain are broad and range from temporomandibular joint syndrome to inflammation of the throat.
In general, the reason for ear pain can be discovered by taking a thorough history of all symptoms and performing a physical examination, without need for imaging tools like a CT scan. However, further testing may be needed if red flags are present like hearing loss, dizziness, ringing in the ear or unexpected weight loss.
Management of ear pain depends on the cause. If there is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are sometimes recommended and over the counter pain medications can help control discomfort. Some causes of ear pain require a procedure or surgery.
83 percent of children have at least one episode of a middle ear infection by three years of age.