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Earache Overview

Earache is very common medical problem for both children and adults. The pain of earache results from inflammation and swelling of the structures that make up the ear, including the external auditory canal, the tympanic membrane, and the middle ear. In rare instances, ear pain is a sensation caused by a problem or infection in the throat (referred ear pain).

  • Myringitis is an inflammation of the tympanic membrane or ear drum.
  • Otitis externa is a skin infection of the outer ear canal. It is the area where wax forms and often occurs after swimming (commonly referred to as swimmer's ear).
  • Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear and eardrum commonly seen in infants and younger children. Otitis media also may affect older children and adults.
Picture of the structures of the ear
Picture of the structures of the ear
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/23/2015
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Symptoms of Ear Infection

Ear pain may be the first symptom of an ear infection, especially if you have moderate to severe ear pain during or shortly after you have a cold. Other symptoms of an ear infection may include:

  • Swelling, heat, or tenderness around or behind the ear.
  • Redness of the ear, ear canal, or skin around or behind the ear.
  • Drainage from the ear that does not look like earwax.
  • Itching of the ear or ear canal.
  • Fever.


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Otitis Media »

Otitis media (OM) is the second most common disease of childhood, after upper respiratory infection (URI).

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary