Ear Pain Common Causes
Ear pain is a common reason for a visit to an ear, nose and throat specialist. Some causes are much more common than others. Here are some of the common causes, and I will elaborate on some of this information in future blogs.
Ear pain typically originates from three sources:
- The ear itself
- The jaw joint (also known as the TMJ)
- The throat
Infection of the ear canal or middle ear, cerumen impaction, and foreign bodies in the ear canal may cause discomfort. Infection of the ear canal skin, also known as swimmer’s ear, may be extremely painful. Use of eardrops, avoidance of water in the ear canal, and sometimes narcotic pain medication may be required. Middle ear infection, with pus under the ear drum, may be quite uncomfortable. Cerumen impaction, or wax, may not only cause hearing loss, but may be uncomfortable as well. Objects placed in the ear canal, often by children, can lead to infection in the ear canal. These should be removed in a timely fashion.
Disorders involving the TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, are also a source of discomfort in this region. This type of pain is often mistaken for an ear ache. This is often caused by clenching or grinding of the teeth, often associated with stress. Avoiding chewy foods, chewing gum, and stress reduction may be beneficial. Occasionally a night guard, made by a dentist, may be required.
Throat discomfort also may be associated with pain in the ears. Children complain of ear pain after tonsillectomy. Lesions in the throat, such as aphthous ulcers, may lead to pain radiating to the ears. In another blog, I mentioned that a child presenting with a foreign body imbedded in the tonsil also complained of pain radiating to the ear on that side.
For more information on common causes of ear pain, contact:
Todd A. Schneiderman, MD FACS
215 Union Avenue Suite C
Bridgewater, NJ 08807