Why Do Your Ears Hurt? (9 Possible Reasons With Symptoms & Treatment)

Ranjeet KumarReviewed by Mr. Ranjeet Kumar Sr. Audiologist, Speech Therapist & Cochlear Implant Specialist, BASLP on May 1st, 2020 written by Editorial Team

Having problems in the ears is not as natural as it can get. Sometimes, the pain may be experienced in an iterative aspect, whereas in other cases, the person may not experience it frequently. But why do your ears hurt?

As we usually see that mature adults often have to go through problems that affect their health as they grow older.

Likewise, there are cases where young children also fall victim to such malady. Pain in the ear may affect one or both ears, however, in most cases, people have had this problem in one ear.

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On the other hand, there may also be conditions where the pain in a person’s ear can have several causes, such as it can be an early sign of cold, flu, or infection.

But, if you have an infection in either of the ears, then this may result in mild fever and/or temporary loss of hearing.

Why Do Your Ears Hurt & You Feel Pain?

Sometimes, ear pain can be very unpleasant. There can, however, be different scenarios where a person usually suffers from an earache, which is a common type of irregularities in not only aged people but in children and adults, too, as they often fall victim to this sort of malady.

Have you ever had or felt any type of pain, especially in your ears?

Well, if you did experience this, either a long time ago or perhaps, recently, then continue reading to find out why it is caused, or what causes it and how you can overcome this problem with the help of some useful guidelines that are provided by professional practitioners in the healthcare industry.

Following are the reasons why you might feel pain in your ear:

1. Infections

One of the common reasons that may cause an unpleasant pain in the ears is usually due to an infection. Now, this infection can be caused by various factors – these could be in the form of environmental or non-environmental aspects.

By environmental factors, it is meant infections that are most likely to thrive in the surrounding around us. Infection may be caused by organisms that are present in our surroundings.

Ear Infection

While it should also be kept in mind that there are also chances of an infection being caused by other things, for instance, the accumulation of earwax in the ears, which could also lead to sudden and unpleasant pain in one’s ears.

This is one of the major reasons why a person could have an earache, and if it is ignored, chances are, the person may face complications in the future, which could also lead to a long-term hearing loss.

  • Infection inside the ear (or the eardrum) – When the bacteria and germs are formed inside the ear, it leads to the infection in the eardrum. This infection causes itching, and discharge along with hurting your ears. So an infection inside can be the main reason behind ear pain.
  • Infection on the outer ear (Otitis Externa) – If you have otitis externa your ear may feel sore or itchy. There may be a discharge coming out of your ear. Your ear may feel blocked and you may not be able to hear properly. It is also called swimmer’s ear. Thus infection in the outer ear can also be the reason behind your ear pain.
  • Infection in the middle ear (Otitis Media) – It occurs when fluid and pus build up in the middle ear, behind the tympanic membrane (eardrum). As a result, you feel unbearable pain in your ear. You can feel pain when you eat something. The pain radiates from the affected area.

2. Presence Of Excess Earwax

Well, you all are aware of the gross and dirty substance in the ear, which you call earwax. Earwax has a protective role. It cleans and lubricates the ear, and can protect the ear canal from bacteria and fungus.

It is surprising to know that this protective wax may be hurting your ear. As the excess of something is bad.

Therefore excess accumulation of earwax inside the ear can hurt your ear. It causes ear pain and disturbs your whole day. Therefore, you should clean as needed.

It gets lodged in a certain way, earwax can cause cough by stimulating the branch of the vagus nerve that supplies the outer ear. The wax blocks the ear canal and hurts the ear.

3. Sticking Of Foreign Object Inside The Ear

foreign bodies

Maximum people have the habit of cleaning the dirt or wax of the ear by inserting foreign objects inside the ear canal.

They insert cotton swabs, pointed objects, water to clean their ear. Due to this carelessness, the objects go deeper into the ear canal and hurt your ears by damaging the eardrum and inner cells up to the optimum level.

Q-tips and fingernails can injure the delicate lining of the inner ear that protects it from infection. Germs enter through the foreign objects and hurt your ear.

Therefore, if you have the habit of inserting these objects to clean your ear. Just leave this habit now. Sometimes, during the shower, soap, water, shampoo gets stuck in the ears accidentally and hurts your ear.

So you have to be careful from these foreign objects and prevent it from entering inside the ear.

4. Blood Clot

A proper supply of blood is necessary for the proper functioning of your ears. A blood clot prevents the blood flow that keeps the system running and function. This causes severe pain to your ear.

Therefore blood clots can affect your ears adversely. When it happens in the deeper auditory system, i.e. behind the eardrum, it is responsible for hurting your ears.

5. Change In The Pressure

Have you felt heaviness, mild, or severe ear pain in an airplane? The majority have felt this abnormal condition. As the plane takes over, there is a sudden change in the air pressure.

This change in the pressure hurts your ear either severely or mildly. Thus the journey may become unhappy as it is hurting your ears.

6. Pain Caused By Secondary Sources

Some of them experience ear pain when they are suffering from cold, flu, headache, toothache, neck pain. Thus pain from other sources is hurting your ears.

There may be the possibility that your ear pain is not linked with ear-related problems. But the referred pain is hurting your ear. If you take painkillers for your problem, it will instantly reduce ear pain.

For Example, if you are suffering from cold, it will produce excessive mucus. Some of the mucus may collect in the middle ear, putting pressure on the eardrum. This causes Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. As a result, your ear gets hurt.

7. Exposure To Loud Noise

When you stay in a noisy environment, attend loud concerts or near the loudspeakers for a long time. You may feel ringing, heaviness, or pain in the ear.

As exposure to the loud noise damages the fine cells of the eardrum and hurts the ear. Loud noise leads to the ruptured eardrum.

This leads to ear pain along with the clear and bloody fluid from the ear. That is why your ear hurts due to loud noise.

If you have the habit of wearing headphones for a longer period of time, leave this habit right now. As in one hand, it soothes your ears by music, on the other side, it will hurt your ear severely.

8. Congenital Injuries And Syndrome

Birth injuries and disease also affect your ear in the future. If you have been a sufferer of congenital injuries, then your ear may hurt severely or mildly. Thus ear problems may be syndromic and non-syndromic.

9. Excess Of Drugs Or Medications

Excess intake of drugs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc are ototoxic in nature. They damage sensory hair cells. As a result, it hurts your ear indirectly.

That is why these medications should be taken under the guidance and supervision of audiologists.

Hurting in the ears is a serious issue and should be dealt with extreme caution. However, it is advised to seek a professional doctor who will diagnose and treat problems that generally occur in individuals, regardless of their age or gender.

Ear pain can come from a long list of conditions, but it may also come in your ears only hurt when you eat, talk or use stereo headphones when listening to music, watching films, etc.

You May Also Experience Some Other Common Symptoms

Generally, a person who is suffering from a sudden ache in their ears tends to start showing certain symptoms, such as:

  • Irritation in babies
  • A rise in body temperature in babies and children
  • Irritation in children
  • Pulling, tugging and rubbing of the ear
  • Redness of the ear
  • Swelling in the outer ear
  • Ear tenderness
  • Discharging of fluid from the ear canal
  • Loss of sleep
  • A cough and running nose
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo (a feeling where everything around the person is spinning)
  • Sinus
  • Loss of appetite in babies and children
  • Balance problems
  • Unable to bear loud noise
  • Loss of normal hearing

The symptoms which are associated with pain the ears also share their signs with other types of ear problems like Tinnitus.

The pain that you feel in the ears while doing activities like swimming, running, etc., should not be dealt with in a casual way.

It could be a serious problem and treatment is a must to overcome this situation and prevent yourself from losing the ability to hear.

However, if you simply ignore the condition for longer periods of time, then it may also aggravate and cause bleeding in the ears, fluid discharge, and total hearing impairment.

What Should I Do If My Ear Hurts?

Most of the time, pain in the ears may heal on its own without any treatment, provided that you only felt the pain once or twice and not frequently.

However, if the pain does not heal on its own and instead, gets worse with the symptoms, then you may need to see a doctor immediately.

Newly born babies and children may develop an infection in the ear. Therefore, it is vital for parents to give proper attention to their children and also make a practice of providing their children with regular health checkups from a nearby healthcare institution.

Follow the given steps below to prevent ear pain or ear hurting problems:

1. Avoid Inserting Sharp Objects

Inserting objects, especially ones that are sharp and of metal-form inside the ears should be strictly avoided as it can damage your eardrum to an extent that may become non-functional and beyond repair.

Also, parents should keep a watch keep their children away from toying with objects which could harm them in any way.

2. Clean The Ears Regularly

Since infection and pain in the ears may occur due to the buildup of fluid or earwax, it is, therefore, vital that you make a habit of cleaning your ears daily.

However, it should also be noted that the use of cotton swabs must be avoided as it will only push the earwax buildup deeper inside the ear and cause further complications.

3. Extra Caution For Swimmers

Individuals who swim quite a lot must keep account of taking proper care of their ears, especially after swimming. Keep your ears dry using a towel.

Avoid letting water getting trapped inside your ears as it may cause infection and thereby, even make the situation worse at a later point in time.

4. Avoid Loud Noise

Loud noise can have a great impact on your eardrums and can cause the inability of hearing in both children and adults.

Thus, to prevent your ears from getting temporarily or permanently damaged, it is advised to limit loud noise in the form of music, construction works, concerts, use of headphones/earphones, etc., and avoid these as much as possible.

5. Adopt Home Remedies

Through these natural and home remedies, you can get relief instantly.

  • Cold and warm compresses
  • Get a warm shower
  • Use tea tree, olive, ginger, coconut, garlic, lavender, basil leaves, onions, salt, apple cider vinegar, etc for ear pain.
  • Naturopathic ear drops.
  • Chewing gum

6. Use Ear Drops

There are a few ear drops that are available pharmaceutical stores that can be used without the need for a prescription.

There are alcohol-based ear drops such as Isopropyl and hydrogen peroxide drops which can be used on a daily basis. Use it to keep your ears clean, dry, and healthy.

7. Take Painkillers Or Other Medication

There are, of course, painkillers that are available over the counter and can be used for healing mild pain in the ear.

However, in cases where the pain in your ears does not lessen, then it is strongly advised to seek a doctor immediately and avoid unwanted problems.

8. Use Ear Tubes

People who repeatedly suffer from earaches, infections, etc., or have problems with the pressure in the eardrum, then you may want to get ear tubes which helps in keeping the middle ear open in order to normalize the pressure and prevent fluid or earwax from getting build up inside the ears.

9. Seek Help From The Doctor

Since both occasional and frequent pain in the ears may be the cause of a serious condition, it is thus, recommended to get treatment from doctors at a nearby healthcare institution in your area.

If the symptoms do not stabilize soon, extra care should be taken in order to prevent permanent loss of hearing.


If your ear hurts, then there may be the underlying cause. There are a cause and effect relationship. It is important to know the specific cause behind the hurting of the ear.

Some pain is temporary and is not directly linked with the ear. In the case of ear-related problems, you should immediately consult the audiologist and start your treatment.

You can purchase the latest hearing aids at a fair price through HearingSol, If you need any assistance or you have a query regarding Ear Problems and Hearing Loss, feel free to call us at +91-9327901950. We are always here to help you.

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