Pain in and on the ear


Pain in the ear or around the ear can have various causes. On the one hand, they can be caused directly by diseases of the ear, such as a middle ear infection.

On the other hand, other diseases in the head or neck can trigger the pain in / on the ear.
The pain can vary from mild to severe pain and may greatly affect everyday life. Earache is also common with tinnitus and is common in children and adults.


As already mentioned, pain in the ear can not only be triggered by an ear disease such as a middle ear infection, but also be symptom of another disease. The possible causes of pain in or on the ear are described below.

Pain in the ear

Pain in the ear may be underlying various diseases of the ear.

For example, otitis media may be present, often preceded by a cold. The viruses or bacteria easily pass through the mouth and pharynx through the tuba (connection between the oropharynx and middle ear) in the middle ear and trigger an inflammation there. Symptoms of otitis media are often severe earache, tinnitus, fever, hearing problems, and general malaise.

In addition to middle ear infection, the external auditory canal can also be ignited by bacteria, fungi or cold or wet environment. Also, a middle ear infection can spread to the external auditory canal. In addition to pain in the ear, tenderness and a swollen pinna can occur.

Injuries of the eardrum are also causing sharp pains in the ear. The eardrum can be injured by external and internal influences. These include inflammation, beatings on the ear or even extreme noise (blast trauma). In addition to the pain in the ear, there is a sudden deafness, as it is the function of the eardrum to transmit the sound in the middle ear.

Furuncles or tumors in the ear and pinna can also cause pain.

Pain at the ear entrance

The tragus is a small cartilage that lies just before the entrance of the external auditory canal, thus providing protection against the ingress of foreign bodies. Pain on pressure on the tragus often indicates inflammation of the external auditory canal ( external otitis ). Furthermore, an inflammation and thus pain directly on the tragus caused by a pierced piercing.

Ear pain and jaw pain

Since the ears are very close to the jaw, earache is often confused with jaw pain. The dentist notes the teeth grinding in a routine examination, since the tooth structure, especially on the chewing surfaces, shows a strong wear and a decrease in the gums can be recorded.

A common cause of jaw pain is teeth grinding ( bruxism ).
Bruxism is usually triggered by stress. Here, the jaw muscles tense during sleep and the teeth are pressed together. This also has a strong wear of the teeth result. This clenching can then become noticeable in a tension and painful masticatory muscles - also during the day - and is perceived as pain in the jaw.

In addition, pain in the jaw caused by a viral or bacterial inflammation in the jaw (eg after a wisdom tooth operation with opening of the antrum). Here, the pain can also radiate into the ears.

The dentist counteracts tooth wear by bruxism ( teeth grinding ) with a bite splint. In addition, relaxation exercises for the jaw muscles can help release the tension and reduce teeth grinding.

However, inflammation of the parotid gland can also lead to ear pain as the salivary gland is in close proximity to the ear. This pain in the parotid gland can also radiate into the jaw and masticatory muscles.

TMJ pain and ear pain

Also here can be called the teeth grinding as a cause. Symptoms that indicate this include, for example, a cracking when opening the jaw, or also pain during jaw opening and chewing. This pain can radiate back into the ears.

Furthermore, a malposition of the temporomandibular joint (craniomandibular dysfunction ) is a way to trigger jaw and ear pain. The interaction between the joints and the masticatory muscles is disturbed and causes symptoms such as pain in the ear.
The malposition can be the result of long teeth grinding, but can also be triggered by a displacement of the spine, which can cause a misalignment of the jaw.

In addition to the pain in the jaw - which are usually described as dull and may be noticeable during the chewing movement as well as at rest - and the pain in the ear, the pain can also radiate into the head and neck area. In addition, a tinnitus can be noticeable.

Tummy ache and ear pain

Pain in the temporal area that corresponds to lateral headache can be triggered simply by wearing glasses. Here, the glasses push on a running along the temple nerve, which leads to pain. This pressure pain can radiate into the ear region.

Also in temporal arteritis, where strong, throbbing temples headaches are typical, pain in the ear can occur. This is a rheumatic vascular disease that causes inflammation in the vessel, resulting in vasoconstriction.
Especially under physical stress, there is a shortage and pain in the temple area, which can radiate into the ears.

Sore throat and pain in the ear

Acute thyroiditis, which is mostly caused by bacteria, causes pain from the neck to the ears. In this case, when the thyroid touches, the pain is increased and redness of the overlying skin can be observed. It can also be accompanied by fever, dysphagia and hoarseness.

A side- hungary pharyngitis can also cause pain in the ears. The lateral strands are the lymphatic channels on the posterior pharyngeal wall, which are usually inflamed by viruses in the side-strand gangrene.

The side strands begin at the tuba (connection between the throat and the ear) and can cause ear pain in case of a viral infection. The Seitenstrangangina usually heals after a few days by itself.

Another cause of earache may be tonsillitis (tonsillitis). This is an inflammation of the palatine tonsils, which trigger pain in the throat and swallowing, which can be felt in the ears and jaw angle.

Also, an inflammation of the tonsils can lead to a middle ear infection, as the pathogens can penetrate through the throat and the middle ear connecting tuba in the ear. This then leads to the typical earache, which are usually described as very strong.

Sinusitis ( sinusitis ) can also spread to the ear and cause pain there. Above all, there is pressure and pain on the cheeks and forehead - the nose feels clogged.

Another infectious disease that can cause earache is the Pfeiffer's glandular fever (mononucleosis infectiosa) . The disease is triggered by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Since mouth and throat are also affected, an infection can spread to the ears and cause pain there.

Oral and pharyngeal cancers ( oropharyngeal carcinoma ) can cause earache for two reasons: if it is a tumor that squeezes nerves in the neck that lead to the ears, it can trigger pain. On the other hand, mouth and throat cancer often cause sore throat, which radiate to the ears.

Headache and pain in the ear

In general, the combination of ear and head pain should be thought of as having a flu infection in the ear, nose and throat area. Especially if additional flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, runny nose or dizziness are added, it can be assumed that this is an infection.
However, the symptoms should improve or disappear after a few days. If this is not the case, further possible causes should be considered.

Pain on the scalp and pain in the ear

If the scalp is pungent and itching and is particularly sensitive to touch, it may be occipital neuralgia ( neuralgia occipitalis ).
Neuralgia is a technical term for nerve pain. In occipital neuralgia, the occipital nerves (nervi occipitalis major and minor) running from the back of the head forward to the forehead and temples are irritated.

Often, only one side is affected by neuralgia and can also cause pain in the ears as the occipital nerves partially co-provision the area.
Pain can also occur in the eyes or upper arms.
The irritation of the nerves can have different reasons.
These include infections or inflammation, gout, problems with the spine such as herniated disc, osteoarthritis or muscle tension in the neck.

Ear pain and toothache

In general, toothache can radiate to the ears and cause pain there.
Furthermore, it is possible for toothache to occur during an infection. This is often a nasal sinus inflammation, which in addition to dental problems can cause earache. The weakened immune system makes it easier to inflame teeth and cause toothache (sinusoidal toothache) . Usually there is already a tooth problem.

Pain on the ear and fluid

Increased fluid formation of the ear mucosa is often triggered by inflammation in the ear. These inflammations are mainly caused by viruses and bacteria, but can also be caused by foreign bodies or injuries in the ear.
For example, an acute middle ear infection causes increased production of aqueous fluid. If bacteria or viruses enter the ear, this effusion becomes tough and purulent. The purulent and sometimes bloody secretions can drain over the external auditory canal. There are also severe earache. In addition, patients complain of pressure in the ear and hearing loss.

If blood escapes from the ear, this can have different causes. For example, minor injuries may cause bleeding due to coarse cleaning or foreign objects. These are usually not strong, stop after a short time and cause little pain. Even a blast trauma, in which the eardrum is injured, can cause bleeding.

But if it comes to heavy bleeding from the ear, you should see a doctor. For example, head injuries can lead to skull fracture and brain bleeding, which also causes blood leakage from the ears.
Here, immediate medical help is needed.

In rare cases tumors in the ear canal can leak blood.

Pain in the ear of the child

Pain in the ear occurs in smaller children not infrequently in the first years of life.

There are several causes of earache in children. Often, no serious illness is the cause, but parents or caregivers should be aware of some symptoms.

When should you go to the doctor?

Earache can have many reasons. In general, an ear, nose and throat doctor should be consulted - especially if children and adolescents have earache. This will take a detailed history and examination to find the cause of earache. Thus, unpleasant secondary damage can be prevented and the disease treated properly.
Also, you should never try to remove foreign objects yourself, so that no structures injured in the ear or parts of the foreign body can be forgotten or overlooked.


If the cause of earache is found, the disease can be treated.
Foreign bodies can be gently removed by a doctor. A middle ear infection or an infection in the nasopharynx are usually (besides rest and tea) treated medicinally. With acute middle ear infections usually causing ventilation problems, decongestant nasal sprays can help soothe the mucous membrane and improve ventilation to accelerate healing. In addition, in fever and pain, antipyretic or analgesic tablets (ibuprofen or paracetamol) can be taken.

If it is a bacterial infection in the ear or nasopharynx, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. There are also ear drops that can be used for ear pain. These contain, for example, the active ingredient procaine, which reversibly inhibits sensitive nerve fibers and thus pain.
If the ear pain is triggered by a dental problem, it must be treated by a dentist.

home remedies

Depending on the cause of the earache, home remedies can be used.
However, since not all home remedies are advisable against any cause of the ear pain and can sometimes worsen them or cause consequential damage such as long-term hearing loss or even facial paralysis, a consultation with the doctor should be made, if the home remedy would promote healing.

A home remedy for inflammation in the ear, for example, is the juice from an onion.
The onions are cut into small pieces and pressed in a handkerchief. The onion juice is caught by the handkerchief. This should now be placed on the inflamed ear for half an hour. The onion juice has an antibacterial and disinfecting effect.

In addition to the treatment with onion juice, heat in inflammation can also help relieve the pain. This is a red light lamp or a heated cherry stone pillow. Care should be taken that the heat is always pleasant and does not cause burns. Thus, the cherry stone cushion should not be too hot or the red light lamp should be placed at a distance of about 50cm.

In case of middle ear infection, a chamomile steam bath can have an analgesic effect and accelerate healing. The chamomile flowers are poured here with boiling water and kept the diseased ear for several minutes on the steam. Again, make sure that the ear is not exposed to excessive heat.


Earache can not always be prevented, especially if it is accompanied by an infection in the nasopharynx. But with proper care or careful behavior after a swimming pool visit, the risk can be reduced.
So cotton buds should generally not be used to clean the ears. A damp cloth is enough to gently cleanse the pinna and the beginning of the outer ear canal. Thus, injuries and inflammation in the ear can be reduced.

Also, you should rinse your ears after visiting a swimming pool, as the chlorine water can irritate the mucous membrane. In addition, the water in the pool can easily penetrate bacteria that cause inflammation and pain in the ear.
With frequent swimming a swimming cap should therefore be worn.

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