Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Ear Pain Overview

What is ear pain?
A person with ear pain has discomfort in the outer ear or inner ear. Ear pain may be caused by an injury, inflammation, or infection. The most common cause of ear pain is an ear infection such as otitis media or otitis externa.

What are the symptoms of ear pain?
Symptoms depend on the underlying cause for the ear pain. All ear infections cause ear pain, but otitis externa also causes an ear discharge and swelling of the ear canal. Cellulitis of the external ear causes the skin on the ear to become red, swollen and tender.

How does the doctor treat ear pain?
Treatment depends on the underlying cause for the ear pain. Otitis media and cellulitis of the external ear are treated with oral antibiotics, while otitis externa is often treated with antibiotic ear drops.

Continue to Ear Pain Risk Factors

Last Updated: Apr 22, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Ear Pain References
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  2. Mirza S, Richardson H. Otic barotrauma from air travel. J Laryngol Otol. 2005 May;119(5):366-70. [1594910]
  3. Shah RK, Blevins NH. Otalgia. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2003 Dec;36(6):1137-51. [15025013]
  4. Wang MC, Liu CY, Shiao AS, Wang T. Ear problems in swimmers. J Chin Med Assoc. 2005 Aug;68(8):347-52. [16138712]
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