What is it?
Earache is pain in one or both ears that may be either dull and constant, throbbing or sharp. Earache may be due to infection of the outer ear canal or the middle ear (acute middle ear infection and glue ear}
INFECTION OF THE OUTER EAR CANAL (otitis externa)
Symptoms: The ear canal is itchy, mild to severe pain, a feeling of fullness in the ear, sometimes a clear or yellowy discharge and temporary deafness.
Causes: Swimming, Scratching the inside of the ear, a foreign body in the ear, bacteria, allergic reaction to e.g. soap, hairspray or perfume.
Treatment in the home: Clean any discharge from the opening of the outer ear canal and ear lobe. Do not clean inside the outer ear canal. If required, take painkillers in recommended doses to ease earache. Do not give aspirin to children under 12 years of age and keep the infected ear dry.
Possible complications: Spreading of the condition, particularly if the cause is infection or allergy.
When to call to call a doctor: As soon as symptoms appear.
What the doctor may do: Remove some of the discharge from inside the ear. Prescribe ear drops or ointment. Prescribe some antibiotics if there is a bacterial infection. Refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist if the condition is severe or recurs regularly.