A to Z: Otalgia (Ear Pain)

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A to Z: Otalgia (Ear Pain)

Otalgia is a general term for ear pain or earache.

More to Know

Earaches are a common pediatric complaint. Kids under 5 years old are particularly at risk, especially following upper respiratory illnesses when ear infections often occur.

A number of things can cause ear pain. Some of the most common include ear infections, airplane pressure, a perforated eardrum, excess earwax, and dental problems. The pain can be deep and aching or sharp and piercing. It also can feel as if the ear is full or blocked.

otalgia illustration

People with earaches may also experience redness or swelling of the eardrum or outer ear, leakage from the ear, difficulty hearing, ear popping, and fever. In infants and toddlers, fussiness and pulling or rubbing the ears can be a sign of ear pain.

Acetaminophen or ibuprofen should help ease discomfort. Antibiotics or ear drops also might be recommended depending on the cause and severity of the earache.

Keep in Mind

Earaches can be quite uncomfortable but are easily treated once a doctor determines what's causing the pain.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.



Related Resources

OrganizationCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.
Web SiteAmerican Academy of Audiology The American Academy of Audiology, the world's largest professional organization of, by and for more than 10,000 audiologists, is dedicated to providing quality hearing care to the public.


Related Articles

Middle Ear Infections Ear infections are common among kids and, often, painful. Find out what causes them and how they're treated.
Eardrum Injuries A "popped" eardrum is more than just painful - it can sometimes lead to hearing loss. Learn about eardrum injuries and how to prevent them.
First Aid: Earaches An earache requires a visit to the doctor's office. Here's what to do if your child complains of ear pain.
Swimmer's Ear (Otitis Externa) Swimmer's ear is an infection of the ear canal caused by many types of bacteria or fungi. Find out how to prevent it.
Dealing With Earwax Earwax helps protect the eardrum and fight infection. Parents shouldn't attempt to remove earwax at home, as doing so risks damage to the ear canal and, possibly, a child's hearing.
Flying and Your Child's Ears That weird ear-popping sensation is a normal part of air travel. Here's how to help equalize the air pressure in your child's ears and eliminate, or at least decrease, ear pain.
A to Z: Impacted Cerumen Learn more about imnpacted earwax build-up, which can cause temporary hearing loss and ear pain.
A to Z: Otitis Media (Ear Infection) Learn more about otitis media, an infection of the middle ear.
A to Z: Eardrum, Perforated A perforated (or ruptured) eardrum is a hole in the eardrum caused by injury or infection.
Ear Injuries Ear injuries not only can affect a child's hearing, but sense of balance, too. That's because our ears also help keep us steady on our feet.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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