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A to Z: Otalgia (Ear Pain)

Otalgia is a general term for ear pain or earache.

More to Know

Earaches are a common pediatric complaint. Kids under 5 years old are particularly at risk, especially following upper respiratory illnesses when ear infections often occur.

A number of things can cause ear pain. Some of the most common include ear infections, airplane pressure, a perforated eardrum, excess earwax, and dental problems. The pain can be deep and aching or sharp and piercing. It also can feel as if the ear is full or blocked.

otalgia illustration

People with earaches may also experience redness or swelling of the eardrum or outer ear, leakage from the ear, difficulty hearing, ear popping, and fever. In infants and toddlers, fussiness and pulling or rubbing the ears can be a sign of ear pain.

Acetaminophen or ibuprofen should help ease discomfort. Antibiotics or ear drops also might be recommended depending on the cause and severity of the earache.

Keep in Mind

Earaches can be quite uncomfortable but are easily treated once a doctor determines what's causing the pain.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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