Otalgia causes

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Otalgia Microchapters


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Differentiating otalgia from other diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors

Natural History, Complications and Prognosis


History and Symptoms

Physical Examination

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Raviteja Guddeti, M.B.B.S[2]


Otalgia can be caused by diseases involving the ear (e.g otitis media, otitis externa) or can be caused by diseases that cause referred pain to the ear (e.g dental caries, pharyngitis).


Common Causes

Less Common Causes

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular Acute Coronary Syndrome[2], Angina
Chemical / poisoning No underlying causes
Dermatologic Eczema, Psoriasis, Furunculosis
Drug Side Effect Reaction to topical agents, gadopentetate, Vinflunine, Deferasirox, Ciclesonide, Butorphanol, galsulfase, Tretinoin
Ear Nose Throat Acute otitis externa (Swimmer's ear), Acute otitis media, Auricular perichondritis, Cerumen impaction, Cholesteatoma, Chronic otitis externa, Ear canal foreign body, Eustachian tube dysfunction, Eustachian tube syringitis, Furunculosis, Herpes Zoster Oticus[3], Laryngitis, Malignant otitis externa,Mastoiditis, Myringitis bullosa, Pahryngitis, Retropharyngeal abscess, Rhinitis, perforated eardrum, Sinusitis, Sterile middle ear effusion, Tonsilitis, Tympanostomy tube obstruction, Acoustic neuroma,Ear Trauma, Suppurative otitis media, Polyps arising from tympanic membrane
Endocrine No underlying causes
Environmental Ear Trauma, High altitude sickness, acute barotrauma
Gastroenterologic Esophagitis
Genetic No underlying causes
Hematologic No underlying causes
Iatrogenic No underlying causes
Infectious Disease

Bacterial: Auricular erysipelas, Cellulitis, Cervical adenitis, Cervical spine infection, Ear, nose, throat (ENT) deep-space infection, Syphilitic meningitis, Lymphadenitis, Parotiditis, Sialoadenitis,Furunculosis, Upper respiratory tract infection

Viral: Mumps, Varicella, Lymphadenitis, Parotiditis, Sialoadenitis, Herpes Zoster Oticus, Myringitis bullosa, Ramsay Hunt syndrome

Musculoskeletal / Ortho Cervical spine disease, Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ)
Neurologic Trigeminal Neuralgia, Acoustic neuroma, Syphilitic meningitis, Arnold nerve cough syndrome,Glossopharyngeal neuralgia
Nutritional / Metabolic No underlying causes
Obstetric/Gynecologic No underlying causes
Oncologic Metastatic tumor, Ear tumor, Laryngeal carcinoma, Tongue cancer, Tonsil cancer, Glomus jugulare tumor, Head and neck cancers
Opthalmologic No underlying causes
Overdose / Toxicity No underlying causes
Psychiatric Functional disorders
Pulmonary No underlying causes
Renal / Electrolyte No underlying causes
Rheum / Immune / Allergy Arthritis, Wegener granulomatosis
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma Cerumen impaction, Cholesteatoma, Head injury, Perforated eardrum
Urologic No underlying causes
Dental Dental caries, Tooth infection
Miscellaneous Post-tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, Bell palsy, Chondrodermatitis nodularis chronica helicis,Keratosis obturans, Carotidynia, Eagle syndrome [4]

Causes in Alphabetical Order[5][6]

Referred Pain


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ely JW, Hansen MR, Clark EC (2008). "Diagnosis of ear pain". Am Fam Physician. 77 (5): 621–8. PMID 18350760.
  2. Sheikh M, Adlakha S, Chahal M, Bruhl S, Pandya U, Saeed B (2010). ""Cardiac otalgia": acute coronary syndrome masquerading as bilateral ear pain". Cardiol J. 17 (6): 623–4. PMID 21154267.
  3. Yoshioka A, Kitagawa Y, Kawada J, Negami T, Hirose G (1990). "[A case of unilateral VIIIth, IXth and Xth cranial nerve involvement with herpes zoster]". Rinsho Shinkeigaku (in Japanese). 30 (4): 413–5. PMID 2167188. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  4. Mayrink G, Figueiredo EP, Sato FR, Moreira RW (2012). "Cervicofacial pain associated with Eagle's syndrome misdiagnosed as trigeminal neuralgia". Oral Maxillofac Surg. 16 (2): 207–10. doi:10.1007/s10006-011-0276-7. PMID 21720752. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  5. Sailer, Christian, Wasner, Susanne. Differential Diagnosis Pocket. Hermosa Beach, CA: Borm Bruckmeir Publishing LLC, 2002:77 ISBN 1591032016
  6. Kahan, Scott, Smith, Ellen G. In A Page: Signs and Symptoms. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2004:68 ISBN 140510368X
  7. Sheikh M, Adlakha S, Chahal M, Bruhl S, Pandya U, Saeed B (2010). ""Cardiac otalgia": acute coronary syndrome masquerading as bilateral ear pain". Cardiol J. 17 (6): 623–4. PMID 21154267.
  8. Han DG (2010). "Pain around the ear in Bell's palsy is referred pain of facial nerve origin: the role of nervi nervorum". Med. Hypotheses. 74 (2): 235–6. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2009.06.027. PMID 19932939. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  9. Satar B, Arslan HH, Ugurel S, Hidir Y (2012). "TMJ herniation associated with lymphangioma of the parotid region". J Craniofac Surg. 23 (2): e67–9. doi:10.1097/SCS.0b013e31824683ef. PMID 22446461. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)

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