KidsMD Health Topics

Ear Pain

  • Overview

    The causes of ear pain in children come from three main areas.

    • external ear
    • middle ear (behind the eardrum)
    • referred ear pain from other sources in the head and neck
    Boston Children's Hospital
    333 Longwood Avenue
    3rd Floor
    Boston MA 02115


  • In-Depth

    Otalgia is one of the most common complaints that a physician caring for children encounter. Visualization and thorough cleaning of the ear canal is essential and referral to an otolaryngologist for binocular microscopic cleaning may be necessary. In assessing the painful ear, relevant history includes site, quality, and timing of pain; radiation of pain to other sites; aggravating or relieving factors.

    Your child will be given a thorough evaluation, exploring the history of the ear pain in conjunction with an examination of her head and neck. On occasion, your physician will also order radiologic studies. Sometimes, ear pain can be referred from distant sites in the head and neck secondary to inflammatory processes, tumors, or mechanical disturbances. These can all mimic primary ear disease.

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