Interesting information regarding Earache (Otalgia)

Written by Dr Chris Smit (ENT specialist)

Earache may be due to different causes.

It can be from Primary earache or Secondary earache

  1. Primary earache means pathology originating in the ear.

Otitis media – this is the most common cause meaning infection in the middle ear (behind the eardrum)

And is most common in children between birth and 6 – 7 years of age.

Common colds, flu or enlarged infected adenoid tissue or cleft palate etc. reduce the function of the Eustachiantube resulting in middle fluid formation.

Antibiotics and Cortisone may improve the condition temporarily, but ventilation tubes (grommets) inserted in the eardrums is safe and best solution of the problem until the Eustachian tube function become normal.

  • Otitis externa – infection of the skin of the ear canal and outer skin layer of the eardrum.

Acute furuncle (boil) – extremely painful on tough of outer ear or on chewing. Treatment: local disinfection of canal and antibiotic.

Chronic ear discharge and itch due to Pseudomonas infection. Treatment: cleaning and disinfection of canal. Antibiotic wick in canal thereafter antibiotic drops.

Fungus – blacke debris in canal. Treatment: local disinfection of canal and antibiotic and cleaning and disinfection of canal. Antibiotic wick in canal thereafter antibiotic drops.

Myringitis – a vesicle on eardrum during common cold like blister on drum. Treatment: pain medication orally. No antibiotic. Other infections like TB may also affect middle ear and mastoid cells.

  1. Secondary earache – this is pain referred to the ears from elsewhere. Common causes can be:
  • Post tonsillectomy – duration two weeks after operation.
  • Tonsilitis or peritonsillar abscess.
  • Teeth: eruption of new tooth, dental pathology.
  • Tempero-mandibular joint – grinding of teeth.
  • Elongated styloid process.
  • Cancer in mouth or pharynx.
  • Neck vertebra pathology.

If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, please contact Dr Smit’s rooms on 012 322 1507 for a consultation

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