Ear Pain
Free Symptom Checker
with Physician-supervised AI

Reviewed By:

Eric A. Gantwerker, MD, MMSC

Eric A. Gantwerker, MD, MMSC (Otolaryngology (ENT))

Pediatric Otolaryngologist at Northwell Health and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. He holds a Master of Medical Science (MMSc) in Medical Education with a special focus on educational technology, educational research, and game-based learning from Harvard Medical School and a Master of Science in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University. He has a special interest in faculty development and has been a speaker or faculty at hundreds of local, national, and international courses and conferences. He is also an active blogger and podcaster for several organizations, including the Harvard Macy Institute (HMI), Harvard Medical School CME Online, and BackTable Innovations. He has been featured in the news and print for media outlets such as USA Today, Businesswire, The Washington Post, Nature Medicine, Fox News, and KevinMD. He was also the Vice President, Medical Director of a medical video game company, Level Ex from 2018 to 2023 that utilized game technology and psychology to create interactive experiences for healthcare professionals. | He is recognized as an expert on the implementation of educational technologies and gaming with a foundation in educational theory for health professions education. He was honored to be inducted as an Associate Member of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Academy of Master Surgeon Educators and as an Associate Fellow of the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE).

Rohini R, MD

Rohini R, MD (Otolaryngology (ENT))

Dr. Rohini R is an ENT, Head and Neck Surgeon, with a Fellowship in Advanced Endoscopic Sinus and Skull Base Surgery and a Fellowship in Aesthetic Medicine and Lasers. Besides clinical practice and working with Ubie, she is actively training and mentoring medical students and residents. She has functioned in various work settings - teaching hospitals, private and free health centers, and worked with patients from all socioeconomic backgrounds due to her experience in free hospitals and volunteering in India and Singapore.

From our team of 50+ doctors

Content updated on Apr 4, 2024

Following the Medical Content Editorial Policy

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How Ubie Can Help You

With an easy 3-min questionnaire, Ubie's AI-powered system will generate a free report on possible causes.

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People with similar symptoms also use Ubie's symptom checker to find possible causes

  • When I pull my ear, the ear pain gets worse

  • Ear is uncomfortable

  • Ear pain gets worse when I pull my earlobe

  • Ear discomfort

  • Ear pain gets worse when I pull my ear

  • Hurting my ear

  • Ear pain worsens when I pull my ear

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About the Symptom

An earache (also known as otalgia) is a sharp, dull, or burning pain in one or both ears. The pain may last a short time or be ongoing. This can be due to a number of things including ear infections (middle or outer), viral illnesses, or even referred jaw pain. If an earache is severe or lasts longer than a few days or is accompanied by ear drainage (otorrhea), consider seeking medical attention.

When to see a doctor

Seek professional care if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Numbness / sensory disorder

  • Difficulty breathing / breathlessness

  • Chest pain during swallowing

  • Dysphagia

Possible Causes

Generally, Ear pain can be related to:

  • Ear Infection

    Infection of the middle ear (area just behind the eardrum) by bacteria or viruses. Contributing factors include nasal obstruction by adenoids and allergic rhinitis. The symptoms can include ear pain or fullness, fevers, and muffled hearing. This is more common in children but can also present in adults. In severe cases, the eardrum may rupture leading to drainage coming out the ear canal.

  • Relapsing Polychondritis

    Relapsing polychondritis is a rare autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly damages and causes inflammation in cartilage tissue. Cartilage deterioration can affect any part of the body where cartilage is present, but the most commonly affected tissues include the cartilaginous parts of the nose, ear, airways, and joints.

  • Occipital Neuralgia

    Occipital neuralgia is a rare type of headache characterized by intense, brief, throbbing, electric-shock-like pain in the back of the head or behind the ears. It can occur on one or both sides of the head, and is thought to result from pinching of a nerve by scalp or neck muscles, neck injury, as well as neck or skull base surgery.

  • Vasculitis Syndrome (Including Cryoglobulinemia)
  • Perilymph Fistula
  • Acute Tonsillitis / Pharyngitis

Related serious diseases

Sometimes, Ear pain may be related to these serious diseases:

Doctor's Diagnostic Questions

Your doctor may ask these questions to check for this symptom:

  • Are your ears hurting?

  • Do you have a fever?

  • Do you have headaches or a heavy feeling in your head?

  • Do you have any skin problems?

  • Is your eyesight getting worse lately?

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Find Similar Symptoms

Symptoms from similar body parts

References

  • Conover K. Earache. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2013 May;31(2):413-42. doi: 10.1016/j.emc.2013.02.001. PMID: 23601480.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0733862713000102?via%3Dihub

  • SMITH EJ. Earache. Can Med Assoc J. 1952 Mar;66(3):234-7. PMID: 14905378; PMCID: PMC1822153.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1822153/

  • Earache - NHS UK

    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/earache/

Reviewed By:

Eric A. Gantwerker, MD, MMSC

Eric A. Gantwerker, MD, MMSC (Otolaryngology (ENT))

Pediatric Otolaryngologist at Northwell Health and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. He holds a Master of Medical Science (MMSc) in Medical Education with a special focus on educational technology, educational research, and game-based learning from Harvard Medical School and a Master of Science in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University. He has a special interest in faculty development and has been a speaker or faculty at hundreds of local, national, and international courses and conferences. He is also an active blogger and podcaster for several organizations, including the Harvard Macy Institute (HMI), Harvard Medical School CME Online, and BackTable Innovations. He has been featured in the news and print for media outlets such as USA Today, Businesswire, The Washington Post, Nature Medicine, Fox News, and KevinMD. He was also the Vice President, Medical Director of a medical video game company, Level Ex from 2018 to 2023 that utilized game technology and psychology to create interactive experiences for healthcare professionals. | He is recognized as an expert on the implementation of educational technologies and gaming with a foundation in educational theory for health professions education. He was honored to be inducted as an Associate Member of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Academy of Master Surgeon Educators and as an Associate Fellow of the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE).

Rohini R, MD

Rohini R, MD (Otolaryngology (ENT))

Dr. Rohini R is an ENT, Head and Neck Surgeon, with a Fellowship in Advanced Endoscopic Sinus and Skull Base Surgery and a Fellowship in Aesthetic Medicine and Lasers. Besides clinical practice and working with Ubie, she is actively training and mentoring medical students and residents. She has functioned in various work settings - teaching hospitals, private and free health centers, and worked with patients from all socioeconomic backgrounds due to her experience in free hospitals and volunteering in India and Singapore.

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