What Are the Main Causes of Ear Pain?

Sometimes a person’s ears are sensitive to the outside air, so much so that it becomes distracting. Ear pain is a normal, albeit annoying, experience for many.

Has your pain become unbearable? Don’t worry. As long as it’s not associated with a head injury, it may not be as bad as you think.

Below, we’re highlighting some of the most common causes of ear pain in young children or adults. This can help you identify the problem and seek treatment when necessary.

Ear Infection

Ear infections are usually caused by a combination of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that collect in the middle ear, which is the area behind the eardrum. The main causes of ear pain due to an ear infection include a buildup of fluid or mucus, blockages within the Eustachian tube, and infection of the outer ear or middle ear.

Pressure Imbalance

One of the main causes of ear pain is pressure imbalance. This occurs when there is an alteration in the pressure between the middle ear and the external environment. Pressure imbalance in the ear can be caused by many things, such as:

  • sinus infection
  • air travel
  • physical activity
  • sudden changes in weather

It can also be caused by blocked eustachian tubes, which are the small tubes that connect the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat. Generally, the pain associated with pressure imbalance occurs because the eardrum is stretched and strained due to the difference in air pressure between the middle ear and the external environment.

Treatment of ear pain due to pressure imbalance typically involves continued rest and over-the-counter medications. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen also give ear pain relief.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage is a common cause of ear pain. The nerves in and around the ear are responsible for signaling pain and transmitting sensations. When these nerves are damaged, it can cause a sensation of ear pain.

Causes of nerve damage in the ear can range from infection or inflammatory diseases to physical trauma. Additionally, for those with conditions like malformed blood vessels or trigeminal neuralgia, damage to the nerves in the ear can result in sharp, shooting pains.


Trauma from a fall, blow to the head, or any disruption to the delicate parts of the ear canal can all cause pain and discomfort. The ear canal is especially susceptible to injury if an object is inserted into the ear, such as a cotton swab or another foreign object. This can cause irritation or even damage to the ear canal.

A punctured eardrum is a common injury that can lead to considerable pain and should be examined by a doctor immediately. Any forceful trauma to the ear can also cause pain, including getting hit in the ear with a ball or other object. In some cases, even a loud, sudden sound, such as an explosion or gunshot, can cause pain, even if there is no physical damage to the ear.

Check out this top otolaryngologist at South Florida ENT.

Main Causes of Ear Pain

Earache and pain can have many causes – some due to infection, others due to blockage or injury. Prevention and treatment can vary, depending on the cause.

To prevent and minimize ear pain, it’s important to practice good hygiene, avoid blockage, and seek medical attention for existing pain. Taking small steps now can prevent big problems later. Take action today. Visit your doctor and take care of your ears.

If this article about the causes of ear pain was interesting to you, consider checking out our other articles today for more relevant information.