near the ear. Earache is an extremely
common symptom, especially in infan-
cy and childhood.
A frequent cause of earache is acute
(infection of the middle ear),
w hich occurs most commonly in young
children and results in severe, stabbing
pain. There may also be loss of hearing
and a raised temperature.
Another common cause of earache is
(inflammation of the ear
canal), w hich is often caused by infec-
can affect the whole
canal, or it may be localized, sometimes
taking the form of a boil or abscess.
The earache may be accompanied by
irritation in the ear canal and a dis-
Intermittent earache may also occur
in people w ith dental problems,
throat cancer (see
pain in the jaw or neck muscles,
and other disorders affecting areas near
the ear. Earache in such cases occurs
because the ear and nearby areas are
supplied by the same nerves; the pain is
said to be “referred” to the ear.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
To determine the cause of earache, the
ear is inspected (see
ear, examination of
The mouth, throat, and teeth may also
(painkillers) may be
prescribed to relieve the pain. Other
treatment depends on the underlying
cause of the earache.
may be prescribed for an infection. Pus
in the outer ear may be removed by
suction. Pus in the middle ear may be
drained through a hole in the eardrum,
a procedure known as
ear, discharge from
Also called otorrhoea, emission of fluid
from the ear. Not all discharge is the
same; it may be watery or thick, clear or
odourless or foul-smelling,
and intermittent or continuous.
A discharge from the ear may be due
to an outer-ear infection (see
It may also follow perforation of
the eardrum (see
w hich is usually due to a middle-ear
a skull fracture (see
skull, fracture of
or blood may be dis-
charged from the ear.
is susceptible to many disorders,
some of which can lead to
In rare cases, the ear canal,
(small bones in the middle ear), or
(visible part of the ear) are absent
or deformed at birth.
measles) in early pregnancy can
damage the baby’s developing ear,
leading to deafness. Most cases of
(deafness due to problems with the
inner ear, nerves, or the brain’s auditory
area) are genetic.
Infection is the most common cause of
ear disorders. Infection in the ear canal
in the middle ear,
media.This can lead to
perforation of the eardrum (see
of fluid in the middle ear), often due
to infection, is the most common cause
of childhood hearing difficulties.Viral
infection of the inner ear may cause
sudden hearing loss.
occurs as the result of one
major or several minor injuries to the
pinna. Perforation of the eardrum can
result from poking objects into the ear
or from loud noise. Prolonged exposure
to loud noise can cause
within the ear) and/or deafness.
Pressure changes associated with flying
or scuba diving can also cause minor
is a rare, noncancerous
tumour of the
press on structures in the ear to cause
deafness, tinnitus, and problems with
accumulate in the middle ear.
Obstruction of the ear canal is often due
although in small children,
an object may have been pushed into
the ear (see
ear, foreign body in
a hereditary condition,
a bone in the middle ear becomes
immobilized, causing deafness.
is a rare condition in which
deafness, vertigo, and tinnitus occur
due to buildup of fluid in the inner ear.
Progressive, age-related hearing loss is a
condition known as
Certain drugs, such as
damage ear function.
Hearing and balance are explored
hearing tests, caloric tests,
ear canal and
eardrum are viewed with an
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
A swab of the discharge may be taken
and sent to a laboratory for analysis to
identify the cause of any infection.
may also be performed.
of the bones of the skull w ill be taken
if there has been a
or if a
serious type of middle-ear infection is
suspected from the symptoms.
Treatment depends on the cause and
The circular membrane that separates
from the middle ear. The
eardrum vibrates in response to sound
waves, conducting the sound to the inner
ear through the
(the three small
bones in the middle ear).
The rupture or erosion of the
Perforation of the eardrum can cause
brief, intense pain. There may also be
slight bleeding, a discharge from the
ear, discharge from
reduction in hearing.
Most commonly, perforation occurs as a
result of buildup of pus in the middle
ear due to acute
infection). Perforation may also be asso-
of skin cells and debris in the ear).
Another cause is injury, for example
from insertion of an object into the ear,
a loud noise,
by pressure changes) or a fracture to the
base of the skull (see
skull, fracture of).