The physician must obtain a complete history regarding the patient’s chief complaint of ear pain. Ask the patient to describe his or her pain: onset, characteristics, severity, localization, radiation. Does anything done by the patient seem to alleviate or exacerbate the pain? It is important to remember that the severity of pain is not in any way indicative of the seriousness of pathology.
The physician should then question the patient regarding associated symptoms. For example: Does the patient suffer from tinnitus, hearing loss, vertigo, sinusitis, facial pain, myalgias, neuralgias, or arthritis?
Question the patient about constitutional symptoms. Specific questions by the physician may elicit information from the patient that he or she may not have considered pertinent and may not have mentioned otherwise. Specifically, the patient should be queried regarding: