AskDefine | Define earache

Dictionary Definition

earache n : an ache localized in the middle or inner ear [syn: otalgia]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • ˈijɹejk


  1. A pain in the middle or inner ear.


Extensive Definition

Otalgia is ear pain or an earache. Primary otalgia is from pain that originates inside the ear. Referred otalgia is from pain that originates from outside the ear.
Otalgia is not always associated with ear disease. It may be caused by several other conditions, such as impacted teeth, sinus disease, inflamed tonsils and infections in the nose and pharynx.

Primary otalgia

Ear pain can be caused by disease in the external, middle, or inner ear, but the three are indistinguishable in terms of the pain experienced.
External ear pain may be:
Middle ear pain may be:

Secondary otalgia

Ear pain can be referred pain to the ears in five main ways:
Psychogenic otalgia is when no cause to the pain in ears can be found, suggesting a functional origin. The patient in such cases should be kept under observation with periodic re-evaluation.


It is normally possible to establish the cause of ear pain based on the history. It is important to exclude cancer where appropriate, particularly with unilateral otalgia in an adult who uses tobacco or alcohol.

See also


External links

earache in Italian: Otalgia
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