Earaches and Ear Infections

Earaches and ear infections overlap each other, but are not identical. This often causes confusion. Dr. Greene explains the difference.

Dr. Greene on the difference between earaches and ear infections…

Dear Dr. Greene, My name is Sharine, and our 5 year old son seems to get alot of ear infections. I’m just wondering if you can tell me in plain English, not in medical terms that no one else can understand; what’s the difference between an ear infection, to an ear ache??? And what causes both of them? Please let me know as follows; and thank-you very much!!!

A: Earaches and ear infections overlap each other, but are not identical. This often causes confusion. A child can have an ear ache either from an ear infection (otitis media) or swimmers ear (otitis externa). On the other hand, not all ear infections (otitis media) cause ear pain. Every earache deserves attention, but not all earaches benefit from antibiotics.

Published on: July 04, 2000
About the Author
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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