Ear Pain - What To Do? How To Treat? Causes Of Ear Pain

Table of contents:

Video: Ear Pain - What To Do? How To Treat? Causes Of Ear Pain

Video: Ear Pain - What To Do? How To Treat? Causes Of Ear Pain
Video: Ear infection home remedies (plus treatments) 2023, March
Ear Pain - What To Do? How To Treat? Causes Of Ear Pain
Ear Pain - What To Do? How To Treat? Causes Of Ear Pain

Causes of ear pain - how to treat?

Ear pain can occur both in a healthy person and be a signal of serious diseases. If you do not visit a doctor in a timely manner and do not start treatment, serious complications can develop, up to complete hearing loss. Therefore, it is so important to know the main causes of pain and be able to cope with it.


  • Causes of ear pain
  • Earache in healthy people - why?
  • The main symptoms of the disease
  • Ear pain in a child
  • Diagnostics
  • Ear pain treatment
  • What should not be done for ear pain?
  • The consequences of improper treatment
  • Prevention

Causes of ear pain

Causes of ear pain
Causes of ear pain

Ear pain is a common symptom that can affect people of any age. Neither children nor adults are insured against it.

The causes of pain can be as follows:

  • Inflammation of the ear (otitis media) and inflammation of nearby organs.
  • Damage to the nervous system and auditory nerve.
  • Diseases involving the neck, nose, oropharynx, blood vessels, brain, etc.
  • Tumor neoplasms.

The pain can be stabbing, pressing, throbbing, shooting. Its intensity depends on the etiological factor. In order for the doctor to be able to make the correct diagnosis, the patient must describe in detail the symptoms that bother him. This will allow you to choose the optimal treatment.

Earache in healthy people - why?

Ear pain
Ear pain

Sometimes ear pain occurs in people who are completely healthy.

The reasons in this case are:

  • Walk in the wind. If the wind blows into the ear, then a "painful bruise" is formed. The skin in the affected area turns blue and begins to hurt. After a while, this condition self-destructs, no treatment is required.

  • Regular water in the ear. This is the so-called "swimmer's ear". The skin of the ear canal softens with constant contact with water, and edema forms. If you do not take any measures, then the person will develop otitis externa.

  • Excessive production of earwax. This leads to a congestion in the ear and some discomfort.

  • Sulfur deficiency. Dry ear can also cause pain.

Ear pain

Ear pain
Ear pain

The human ear is represented by 3 sections: external, middle and internal. The outer section from the middle is limited by the tympanic membrane. An oval window is located in front of the entrance to the inner ear. It is covered with an elastic membrane. Depending on exactly where the inflammation is concentrated, otitis media can be medium, external or internal.

  1. Otitis externa can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
  2. Otitis media can be triggered by viruses or bacteria.
  3. Inflammation of the inner ear is called labyrinthitis.

    It develops for various reasons, including:

    • Infection from the middle ear, if otitis media was not treated, or was absent at all.
    • Getting an infection from the brain with meningitis.
    • Getting an infection with the blood stream with tuberculosis, syphilis, herpes.
    • Infection from the external environment with injuries to the temporal region, or the ear itself.
  4. Eustachite. This is an inflammation of the auditory tube, which is accompanied by painful sensations, fluid overflow in the ear, and autophony.

Boils and cysts of the sebaceous glands (atheromas), which are located in the ear canal, can lead to pain in the ear. Symptoms of the pathology will resemble otitis externa. However, when examining the ear, the doctor visualizes an inflammatory focus with purulent contents and blood.

Pain in trauma

Pain in trauma
Pain in trauma

Trauma always leads to painful sensations.

Types of ear injuries:

  • Mechanical damage. The wound may be lacerated, and damage to the cartilaginous tissue of the ear is also often observed. If it was hit with a blunt object, then a hematoma is formed. Injuries lead to intense pain. A person can become deaf for a while, sometimes blood is released from the ear canal. These symptoms are the reason for contacting a doctor. The doctor must exclude the violation of the integrity of the eardrum and make sure that the bones of the skull are not damaged.

  • Barotrauma. Such damage can be caused by the pressure difference in the environment and in the ear itself. A similar situation is observed during explosions (due to a loud sound), when flying in an airplane (while climbing and descending), when swimming at a depth (during diving), when climbing to an altitude.

  • Injury by a foreign object. Small parts can get into the ear canal, sometimes insects get into the ear. This leads to tissue swelling, itching and pain of varying intensity. Sometimes a person's hearing deteriorates.

  • Frostbite and burns. The more intense the pain, the stronger the damage.

  • Sulfur plug. Excessive accumulation of wax in the ear canal leads to ear pain and hearing loss.

Ear tumors

Ear tumors
Ear tumors

The tumor is most often found in the outer and middle ear. Labyrinth neoplasms are rare. When a cancerous tumor forms in the outer ear, a person suffers from severe pains, they are burning, they are given to the temple. Blood can be secreted from their ear canal. If obstruction develops, the person begins to hear poorly.

If the tumor grows in the middle part of the ear, then the symptoms will resemble the clinic of otitis media. However, the person will quickly lose hearing. Pain cannot be stopped with classic drops for the treatment of otitis media. By the evening they become stronger.

As the pathology progresses, nearby structures are included in the process. This leads to poor coordination, paresis of the facial nerve, trigeminal neuralgia may develop.

Pain in diseases of neighboring organs

Pain in the disease of neighbors
Pain in the disease of neighbors

Ear pain can occur when structures located nearby suffer from one or another pathology.

The reasons for such violations:

  • Mastoiditis. With this pathology, the mastoid process becomes inflamed. The pain in the ear is severe, throbbing. Edema forms behind the auricle, hearing decreases, body temperature increases.

  • Sinusitis. The paranasal sinuses are inflamed. The pain will be concentrated in the forehead, in the upper jaw. In addition, teeth and headaches may hurt. Painful sensations in the ear are acute.

  • Neuralgia of the trigeminal or glossopharyngeal nerve. With their inflammation, the pain will be given to the ear.

  • Arthritis and arthrosis of the temporomandibular joint. A person's ear hurts from the side of the lesion, the intensity of the pain depends on the severity of the inflammation. Hearing may deteriorate, the mobility of the lower jaw is impaired. A crunch and other noises are heard in the temporal region. They appear when a person opens and closes their mouth.

  • Mumps. With this disease, the salivary glands, which are located in front of the auricle, become inflamed. When bacteria enter the gland, it suppurates. The infection can enter it with the flow of blood or lymph, or from a diseased tooth.

  • Lymphadenitis. Near the ear are lymph nodes that are hidden under the skin. Normally, they are not palpable, but if their inflammation develops, then the person often feels pain in the ears. This reaction can be caused by aching teeth when the infection enters the lymph nodes. Also, bacteria are able to spread throughout the body with the flow of blood or lymph.

  • Pulpitis or caries. The teeth and ears are innervated by branches extending from the trigeminal nerve. Therefore, if the teeth or jaw bones are damaged, a person may experience pain in the ear.

The main symptoms of the disease

The main symptoms
The main symptoms

Depending on the nature of the pain in the ear and its intensity, the doctor may suspect this or that pathology. To clarify the diagnosis, the doctor directs the patient to certain examinations. At the reception with a specialist, you need to describe the disturbing sensations in as much detail as possible. This will help narrow the range of possible diseases and start treatment earlier.

Shooting ear pain

Shooting pain in the ear does not require delay. Such sensations indicate an acute inflammatory reaction concentrated in the middle ear. Sore throat, flu, labyrinth can provoke lumbago. The pain can radiate to the temple, to the teeth, but only from the side of the lesion.

In addition to lumbago, a person may complain of congestion in the ear canals, tinnitus and hearing loss. Sometimes one side of the face and head hurts. With intense inflammation, the body temperature often rises.

Pain and itching

If the ear not only hurts, but also itches, then a fungal infection can be suspected. Less commonly, itching is provoked by bacteria. These symptoms clearly indicate inflammation that is concentrated inside the ear. Another common cause of itching and pain is diabetes.

Pressure pain

If the pain in the ear increases with pressure on it, this is a symptom of otitis externa. The ear canal becomes inflamed due to infection. Pathology develops under the influence of various bacteria. Moreover, they can get into the ear canals from the inflamed sinuses or tonsils.

The external section of the ear canal swells, the patient's body temperature rises, purulent discharge appears. An unpleasant smell will come from them. However, hearing remains intact and does not decrease.

Ear and jaw hurt

Ear and jaw hurt
Ear and jaw hurt

Simultaneous pain in the jaw and in the ear occurs against the background of lymphadenitis. In this case, the lymph node becomes inflamed, which is located either near the ear or under the lower jaw. Painful sensations spread to the temporal region and to the collarbone, which is observed with intense inflammation.

The jaw and ear can hurt against the background of a wisdom tooth erupting, with deep caries.

The third cause of pain is trigeminal neuralgia.

Ear hurts and is swollen

The symptom of otitis media is ear pain and swelling. This inflammation is often a complication of an untreated cold. A lump can form near the ear, which reaches 3-15 mm in size. Its appearance indicates the involvement of the lymph node in the pathological process.

Ear hurts and discharge

If fluid begins to appear from the diseased ear, then this indicates the development of a purulent process. This symptom should not be ignored, since the infection can spread to the deep structures of the ear and to the brain.

Pain and abscesses or boils

A furuncle in the ear causes severe pain. A person cannot sleep normally, his appetite disappears, the quality of life in general is disturbed. It is strictly forbidden to try to squeeze pus out of the boil. It develops due to inflammation in the tissues themselves. In this case, experts talk about limited otitis media.

Ear hurts and burns (bakes)

Pain and burning sensation indicate an ear infection. If the painful sensations extend to the back of the head, then cervical osteochondrosis can be suspected.

Ear pain in a child

Ear pain in a child
Ear pain in a child

In children, ear pain can be caused by a variety of reasons. The most common of these is otitis media. The widespread occurrence of this disease in childhood is due to the structural features of the hearing system in babies.

The second most common cause of pain in the ear is the ingress of a foreign body. The child can put a small part in the ear. If such a situation has happened, then you should not try to extract it yourself. You must go to a medical facility.

Symptoms of ear pain in a child:

  1. Strong crying.
  2. Nausea, refusal to eat, vomiting.
  3. Increased crying with pressure on the ear tragus.
  4. Even touching a sore spot causes anxiety in the baby.



To determine the causes of ear pain, you need to contact an otolaryngologist or audiologist. The doctor will interview the patient, clarify his complaints and perform an examination. After that, a diagnostic plan will be drawn up, which will clarify the cause of the pain. If necessary, the patient will be referred to another specialist.

Examination scheme for pain in the ear:

  • Blood donation for clinical and biochemical analysis.
  • Delivery of urine for general analysis.
  • CT and MRI of the temporal bone.
  • Audiometry.
  • X-ray of the temporal bone.
  • Delivery of tests to determine the infection.
  • Visit to the dentist.

The patient is not always prescribed all of the listed procedures. Sometimes a standard examination is enough to identify the disease. When the results are received, the doctor will prescribe treatment.

If the disease is complex, then consultation of specialists such as:

  • Surgeon.
  • Infectionist.
  • Audiologist and audiologist (narrow specialties in otolaryngology).
  • Neurologist.
  • Dentist.
  • Traumatologist.

Ear pain treatment

Ear pain treatment
Ear pain treatment

An ENT doctor is engaged in the treatment of ear diseases. He selects the necessary drugs, is determined with the dosage of the drug and the duration of their administration. Do not put any medications into the ear on your own. Sometimes it is not possible to cope with the disease with conservative methods, in this case the patient is referred for surgery.

First aid

It often happens that ear pain occurs suddenly and it is not possible to immediately seek medical help.

To relieve pain, you need to know the rules of first aid:

  • Taking an anesthetic drug. This can be Paracetamol or Ibuprofen.
  • Go to bed, exclude loud sound and bright light.
  • Apply dry heat to the ear. This can only be done when the body temperature remains within normal limits and there is no discharge from the ear.
  • If the ear has just begun to hurt, then a vasoconstrictor drug should be instilled into the nose. You can take an allergy pill. This will reduce swelling of the tissues of the nasopharynx. The outflow of fluid in the auditory tube will improve, and otitis media will not develop.
  • If water gets into your ear, you need to jump on one leg. At the same time, the head is tilted to the side and down so that the water can flow out. Alternatively, you can create a vacuum. For this, a palm is firmly applied to the ear and abruptly removed.
  • If an ear injury occurs, then cold should be applied to it.
  • For ear burns, an alcohol solution is used to relieve pain.
  • If the ear pain lasts less than 2 days, but there is no discharge, you can use Otipax or Otinum drops. They help to stop inflammation and relieve pain.

When discharge from the ear appears, it is forbidden to inject any drops into it. First you need to consult a doctor.

Drug treatment

Drug treatment
Drug treatment

Any drug should be prescribed by a doctor after a diagnosis. The doctor draws up a therapy regimen that will allow not only to cope with pain, but to eliminate the cause that caused it.

The main directions of treatment:

  • Anesthesia. Most often, NSAIDs are prescribed in tablet form.
  • Ointments and solutions with anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Aseptic ear preparation.
  • Antibacterial therapy is carried out only when the bacterial nature of the inflammation is confirmed. Antibiotics are prescribed in a course that can last up to several weeks. It is important to strictly follow medical prescriptions in order to prevent the development of complications and not lead to chronicity of the disease.
  • If a person has a ruptured eardrum, then it will overgrow on its own within a month. To speed up this process, the doctor may prescribe drugs for local therapy. When the injury is severe, the help of a surgeon may be required.

Ear pain medications

Ear pain medications
Ear pain medications

Most often, drops are used to treat ear pain:

  • Drops with antibacterial effect: Tsipromed, Anauran.

  • Drops with hormones in the composition: Sofradex, Polydex. They are prescribed for severe inflammation.

  • Drops for the treatment of perforated otitis media: Otofa, Normax. Their use does not harm the auditory nerve.

  • Drops with anesthetic effect: Phenazone, Ototon.

  • Drops for the treatment of fungal infection: Candibiotic.

Drops must be slightly warmed up before being introduced into the ear canal. To do this, you need to hold them in your palms. The ear should be pulled back and up, but if the child is under 2 years old, then it is pulled down and back. Then the tragus is pressed tightly against the ear canal and lies on the opposite side. In this position, you need to spend about 5 minutes. For children under one year old, ear drops are rarely prescribed. Doctors recommend using Nazivin to treat babies.

In addition to drops, ear ointments can be used for pain in the ear:

  • Sofradex. This drug contains several active ingredients at once. Using the ointment allows you to relieve inflammation, get rid of fungal infections and bacteria. Treatment should not be continued for more than 7 days in order not to develop habituation.

  • Levomekol ointment. It has a pronounced antibacterial effect, allows you to accelerate the restoration of damaged tissues, activates metabolic processes and the production of its own interferon. If the patient develops otitis media, which is accompanied by the appearance of purulent discharge, it is necessary to twist the turunda, soak it with ointment and insert it into the ear canal for 12 hours. The course must last at least 10 days.

  • Tetracycline ointment. It is an antibacterial drug used to treat otitis externa. It is introduced into the external auditory canal 2 times a day. The course of treatment is one week.

For ear pain, pills and suppositories can be used.

The most effective ones are:

  • NSAIDs. Diclofenac suppositories, which are inserted before bedtime. To get rid of pain, 1 candle is enough. Nurofen or MIG tablets 400 mg.
  • Antibiotics: Ampicillin and Amoxicillin.
  • Antifungal drug: Clotrimazole.


If conservative therapy has not allowed to achieve the desired effect, then surgery is required. The most common procedure for otitis media is eardrum bypass surgery. When this method does not relieve pain and reduce body temperature, an incision of the eardrum is performed on the patient. The procedure is called paracentesis.


Of the physiotherapy techniques, laser treatment is often used. The course lasts five days. The average session duration is 5 minutes. A pneumatic massage of the tympanic membrane or UHF on the nose can also be prescribed.

In order to prevent pain in the ear, you need to deal with the prevention of colds. In cold weather, you should wear a hat and avoid drafts.

Video: Living Healthy - what to do with ear pain? ENT doctor's advice:

What should not be done for ear pain?

What not to do
What not to do

For pain in the ear, the following actions are strictly prohibited:

  • You can’t be on the street without a hat. This prohibition is relevant in cold and windy weather.
  • You can't be in a draft.
  • You should not try to penetrate the deep structures of the ear in order to clear it of pus or other secretions.
  • Do not leave visible pus in the ears. You need to remove it on time.
  • You cannot use different drops in an attempt to find an effective remedy.
  • It is forbidden to warm the ear if the body temperature is elevated, or there is purulent discharge.

It is not difficult to visit a doctor. In addition to state clinics, there are private medical institutions in which an otolaryngologist always sees. You should not risk your own health and self-medicate.

The consequences of improper treatment

The consequences of improper treatment
The consequences of improper treatment

If there is no treatment for ear pain, or it is not chosen correctly, this can cause serious complications. Therefore, if unpleasant symptoms appear, you need to contact a specialist. It is dangerous to try to remove the sulfur plug yourself. Careless action can damage the eardrum or the tissues of the ear canal.

Possible complications include:

  • Hearing loss. Deafness can be temporary or permanent.
  • Spread of infection to surrounding tissues. Otitis media can cause meningitis or mastoiditis.
  • Eardrum rupture.
  • Neurological diseases.

In order to prevent serious consequences, you need to follow all medical prescriptions. Be sure to visit a specialist after completing a therapeutic course.


Earache is a symptom that can be caused by a variety of factors.

Therefore, preventive measures are reduced to general recommendations:

  • When it's cold and windy outside, wear a hat.
  • Any diseases must be treated to the end.
  • It is forbidden to take any medications without prior medical advice.

When the first signs of discomfort appear, you need to see a doctor.


The author of the article: Lazarev Oleg Vladimirovich | ENT

Education: In 2009, he received a diploma in the specialty "General Medicine" at the Petrozavodsk State University. After completing an internship at the Murmansk Regional Clinical Hospital, he received a diploma in Otorhinolaryngology (2010)

Popular by topic

Interesting Articles
Determination Of The Stage Of Melanoma, Prognosis
Read More

Determination Of The Stage Of Melanoma, Prognosis

Determination of the stage of melanoma, prognosis of melanomaBefore starting treatment, the doctor needs to determine the stage of the disease, if we are talking about melanoma. Determination of the stage of melanoma implies an attempt to study in more detail several important indicators at once, such as the size of the tumor, the depth of penetration into the skin, the prevalence of formation cells in the nearby lymph nodes and other parts of the body

Skin Melanoma - Mole Melanoma, Pigmented Melanoma, Facial Melanoma
Read More

Skin Melanoma - Mole Melanoma, Pigmented Melanoma, Facial Melanoma

Melanoma of a mole, pigmented, on the faceDefinition of melanomaMelanoma is a very dangerous disease that is much easier to prevent than cure. Melanoma of the skin is a malignant tumor that occurs at any age. Such a common type of disease, as a rule, arises from special melanocytes of normal skin, as well as from pigmented nevi

Removal Of The Fallopian Tube: What Is The Threat? Indications, Complications And Consequences
Read More

Removal Of The Fallopian Tube: What Is The Threat? Indications, Complications And Consequences

Removal of the fallopian tube: what is the threat?Removal of the fallopian tube is an operation performed by many women at different ages. Sometimes doctors have to cut one, and sometimes two tubes at once. Statistics indicate that from 3 to 12% of women go through the procedure for removing the appendages