Reasons for Ear Pain

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Nikita Tyagi, last updated on 15 July 2022
Reasons for Ear Pain

Ear Pain And Its Types
Ear pain is also known as Otalgia. It occurs in children predominantly. The pain often only affects one ear but can affect both ears. Types of Ear Pain are as follows:

  1. Primary Otalgia: If pain occurs inside the ear, it is known as Primary Otalgia.
  2. Secondary Otalgia: If pain occurs outside the ear, it is known as Secondary Otalgia.

What are the Symptoms of Ear Pain?

The symptoms of Ear Pain in adults are as follows:

  1. Pain in the ear.
  2. Difficulty in Hearing 
  3. Fluid drainage from the ear

Symptoms of Ear Pain in Children are as follows:

  1. Fever
  2. Irritability
  3. Headache
  4. Pain in the Jaw
  5. Increased crying 
  6. Hearing loss
  7. Difficulty hearing or recognising sounds
  8. Appetite loss

What are the reasons for Ear Pain? 

The most common reasons are as follows:

  1. Ear Wax: Wax is constantly produced and eliminated from your ears. When the procedure is unsuccessful, the wax accumulates and hardens, obstructing your ear canal and causing pain.  When earwax has got in the ear canal to the point that there may be indications that something isn't quite right, it is referrtreferredas being impacted.
  2. Air Pressure: The air pressure inside the ear is typically stable; however, if it fluctuates due to riding in an elevator or aeroplane, this could cause pain and hearing loss. 
  3. Middle Ear Infection: The middle ear tubes that may become blocked by a cold, allergies, or sinus infection along with fluid accumulation is mainly diagnosed as Otitis Media. This is the most common reason for ear pain.
  4. Swimmer’s Ear: After swimming, water in your ear canal may promote the growth of bacteria, which can cause swelling, redness, itching, and leakage of—The mainly infected. So after swiessential's essential to keep your ears dry.
  5. The temporomandibular disorder: Primarily impacts the joints that attach the jawbone to the skull.

How to Diagnose Ear Infection?

  1. Diagnosis is performed using an Otoscope to blow air on the eardrum to determine if it is moving, usually identifying an ear infection.
  2. Tympanometry: This medical test evaluates the middle ear and eardrum's movement and function.
  3. Acoustic Reflectometry: The sonar-based technique allows for the identification of middle ear effusion.
  4. Tympanocentesis: This process involves removing fluid from beneath the eardrum. The doctor obtains the fluid sample using a special needle and liquid. The fluid sample is subjected to a culture and sensitivity test.
  5. Nasolaryngoscopy: A flexible fibre-optic endoscope is used in a diagnostic medical procedure to view the structures within the nasal passages, including the sinus openings, the larynx, and the vocal cords.
  6. Computed Tomography: If Mastoiditis is suspected of causing Ear Pain, a Computed Tomography (CT) scan may be indicated.

What are the complications of Ear Pain?

Depending on the cause, complications are as follows:

  1. Malignant Otitis is a severe disorder that can require high doses of antibiotics and immediate medical attention. It can result from ear infections like the swimmer's ear, which can cause an infection to spread to areas around the ear.
  2. Hearing Loss or dizziness may result after an eardrum rupture, mainly if it doesn't fully heal. Acute medical care is necessary if an infection spreads to the bone behind the ear (mastoiditis).
  3. Recurrent ear infections or a long-term buildup of fluid in the middle ear in children might result in hearing loss and behavioural or language issues.

Management of Ear Pain at Home?

  1. Apply a cold compress to the ear.
  2. Keep your ears dry.
  3. To relieve the ear pressure, sit up straight.
  4. An ear infection can be painful and uncomfortable, but chewing may help.
  5. Usage of over-the-counter medications.

How to Prevent Ear Pain?

  1. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoking.
  2. After swimming or taking a bath, dry your ears.
  3. Avoid putting anything foreign in the ears.

How to Manage Ear Pain by using Medications?

  1. By using Over-the-counter medications like Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen, ear pain can be managed.
  2. Children may need medications like amoxicillin if their ear infection is severe or lasts more than a few days. 

When to Visit the Doctor?

  1. If the temperature is 104°F (40°C) or above, get medical help. 
  2. If you experience extreme discomfort that suddenly stops after an eardrum visit, visit a doctor. 
  3. If an earache worsens or doesn't go away in 24 to 48 hours, you should also schedule an appointment with your doctor. 


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Updated on : 15 July 2022


Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More


Nikita Tyagi

Nikita Tyagi

BPharm (Jawaharlal Nehru Technical University, Hyderabad)

2 Years Experience

An enthusiastic writer with an eye for details and medical correctness. An avid reviewer and publisher. She emphasises authentic information and creates value for the readers. Earlier, she was involved in making ...View More

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