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Differentiation ist necessary

Isabel Weinert & Marta Campbell
05.03.2018  15:45 Uhr

Not only children but adults too are affected with earache. Chronic processes can bring heavy complications. If the earache does not disappear after a few days or come again, if there is fever or lose in hearing the patient should visit a doctor.

The structure of the ear consists of an outer, middle and inner ear. The outer ear is made up of the auricle and the outer ear canal up to the eardrum, the middle ear consists of the eardrum, the auditory ossicle and the tympanic cavity, and the inner ear is formed by the cochlea.

The outer ear canal inflammation or external otitis is characterised by itchiness, feeling of pressure, and pain when pulling at the earlobe. The otitis media mostly causes a sharp earache, often also fatigue and fever. Sure signs of an inflammation of the inner ear or labyrinthitis can be impaired hearing, rotary vertigo, uncontrolled eye movements and frequently also nausea and vomiting.


  • Since when have you had these symptoms, how do they affect you and have they become worse?
  • Do you have a temperature?
  • Is your hearing impaired?
  • Do you suffer from dizziness?
  • Is there fluid leaking from your ear?
  • Have you had an infection prior to the present condition?
  • Have you been treated previously for this condition?
  • Do you have any idea what could have caused this ­infection (swimming pool, incorrect use of cotton swabs, a known overproduction of earwax)?


  • To treat the symptoms of otitis media, the doctor has prescribed a painkiller with ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • You should only use pain-relieving ear drops containing procaine and phenazone after having seen a doctor.
  • Decongestant nose drops and nose sprays will make it easier for you or your child to breathe through the nose.
  • Your doctor has prescribed an antibiotic, which you or your child should take if the symptoms last longer than forty-eight hours.

Additional information

  • (In the case of ear drops:) Before using the ear drops you should warm the bottle in your hand for a few minutes. It is best if another person drops the ear drops into your ears while you lie on your side. The ear should be slightly pulled backwards so that the drops can easily reach the ear canal. After the drops have been applied you should stay lying on each side for five minutes.
  • (In the case of decongestant nose drops:) Initially, the nose drops should be applied three times a day. If the symptoms improve, then only one application before going to bed will suffice. In total, the nose drops should not be used longer than seven days.
  • In many cases, an otitis media will heal by itself within twenty-four hours.
  • An infection of the ear canal often occurs after swims in a swimming pool or by using cotton swabs incorrectly. In most cases, this condition does not heal by itself. In such a case, you should therefore consult a specialist. 
Deutsch / German Englisch / English
Außenohr outer ear
Drehschwindel rotary vertigo / dizziness
Druckgefühl feeling of pressure
Gehörgang ear canal
Gehörgangentzündung ear canal inflammation / infection
Hörminderung impaired hearing
Innenohr inner ear
Juckreiz itchiness
Mittelohr middle ear
Mittelohrentzündung otitis media
Ohrmuschel auricle
Ohrenschmalz earwax
Ohrenschmerzen earache
schmerzstillend analgesic
Trommelfell eardrum
Vocabulary on ear infections