Ear Pain

An earache can be a sharp, dull, or burning pain in one or both ears. The pain may be temporary or constant.

Ear pain in children is often caused by a buildup of fluid and pressure behind the eardrum, in the area called the middle ear. The middle ear is connected to the nasal passages by a short narrow tube, the Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube allows normal fluids to drain out of the middle ear and helps keep the pressure in your ear equalized.

Ear pain is often caused by a buildup of fluid and pressure behind the eardrum.

A cold or allergy can block the Eustachian tube due to inflammation and the buildup of secretions. This is especially likely in small children, because their Eustachian tube is shorter, narrower, and more horizontal. Closing of the Eustachian tube prevents the normal flow of fluid from the middle ear. The fluid begins to build up, which can cause stuffiness, pain, hearing loss, and infection.

Ear pain in adults is less likely to be from an ear infection. What you perceive as ear pain may actually be coming from another location, such as your temporomandibular joint, teeth, or throat. This is called “referred” pain and should be assessed by a medical professional.

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