Earache may be caused by the ear itself or ‘referred’ to it from some other part of the head/throat which is supplied by the same sensory nerve. Such pain is called referred pain.
An ENT doctor will look at the ear to rule out a cause in the ear itself such as an infection. If an ear infection is discovered, the patient will receive medication which may include a painkiller as well as an antibiotic.
Pain in the ear is common in children who have a cold and subsequently develop a middle ear infection. It is also seen in persons who swim or scratch their ears while trying to clean them with a fingernail. Such injuries cause an infection of the skin of the external ear, which can be a very painful condition.
If the ear is found to be normal, then the cause of the pain may lie elsewhere, for example in the teeth, jaw, tongue, cheek, tonsils etc.
Any pain in the ear which lasts longer than a few days should be investigated.
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