Otalgia is an intense, dull or burning pain to the ears. It can affect one ear or both, and may last for a short time or persist a long time.

Often with children the earache is due to an infection, but it is not impossible that there may be an underlying irritation or presence of soap or shampoo in the ear.

In case of adults, it is rare that the earache is due to an infection. Often, in fact, in adulthood the pain felt in the ear comes from other district in the body, such as teeth, the jaw or throat.

Other possible causes of ear pain are trauma associated with pressure changes (for example at high altitudes), earwax buildup or foreign objects and perforated eardrum.


What kind of diseases can be associated with Otalgia?

The following diseases may be associated with ear pain:

  • Arthritis of the jaw
  • Bruxism
  • Pharyngitis
  • Dental infections
  • Ear infections
  • Inflammation of the trigeminal nerve
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Sore throat
  • Swimmer's ear
  • Malignant otitis externa
  • Otitis media
  • Mumps
  • Temporomandibular joint syndrome
  • Sinusitis
  • Cancers of the larynx

Remember that this is not an exhaustive list and it is highly recommended to consult your doctor, in case of symptom’s persistence


What is the therapy for ear pain?

Ear pain can be relieved with cold compresses, swallowing saliva, chewing gum or avoiding to lie down. If necessary, you can contact your pharmacist for advice and counter medications to relieve the pain, both in the form of drops or orally taken pain medications.

In some cases you need more specific remedies and treatments, depending on the underlying cause of the ear pain. In case of bruxism, for example, it is recommended the use of a bite.


When is most likely to contact your doctor in case of ear pain?

In case of ear should seek medical attention: if the pain is very strong, if not improve within 24-48 hours or if it is associated with fever or other symptoms that suggest the presence of triggering problem. It is important to seek medical attention even if extreme pain disappears suddenly, it could be a sign of perforation of the eardrum.