Rao's ENTRao's ENT

Ear Pain

I have been getting ear pain. What could be the cause?

Ear pain can arise due to many reasons such as an injury from poking your ear with an outside object (e.g. hairpin, pencil, or safety pin), an infection in your ear canal (otitis externa) or an infected hair follicle in your ear canal (furuncle), or an infection of middle ear (acute or serous otitis media). It could also arise due to ear wax build up or due to sudden pressure changes at takeoff and landing times during air travel.  If areas near the ear are infected e.g. tonsillitis, sinusitis, neuralgias, pharyngitis or aching jaw or jaw joint or toothache or mouth ulcers, you could get bouts of pain in the ear. Some more serious conditions causing ear pain could be malignant otitis externa or complicated unsafe type of chronic otitis media.

Yes, you should schedule a visit to your ENT physician without delay. Most ear pains can be treated successfully but the key to effective treatment lies in first making the correct diagnosis.

Your ENT physician will give you a thorough check up to find the cause and will prescribe treatment accordingly.

Ear pain needs to be treated as an emergency requiring immediate medical attention in the following circumstances:

  • If your child has severe ear pain along with high fever, or seems more ill than you would expect from an ear infection.
  • If your child is getting ear pain with added symptoms such as headache, facial muscle weakness, swelling around the ear, or dizziness.
  • If a severe ear pain suddenly stops, it can indicate a ruptured tympanic membrane (ear drum).
  • When symptoms such as pain, irritability and fever are worsening and not showing any improvement in 24-48 hours.

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