Did you know that, other than the common cold, middle ear infections are the most common childhood illness?
Unfortunately, ear discomfort can strike adults as well. It’s not always clear whether it’s a common infection or something deeper.
As it turns out, there are quite a few common causes of ear pain. But how can you identify the cause?
We’re here to fill you in! Check out our guide below to learn about seven of the most common causes of ear discomfort!
1. Swimmer’s Ear
Swimmer’s Ear is the common name for external otitis, an infection typically caused when water gets trapped in the ear canal. Swimmer’s Ear causes a feeling of fullness in the ear and discomfort, along with pain if the earlobe is pulled.
External otitis can also develop if one sticks cotton swabs or their fingers in their ear. This can damage the skin lining the ear canal and lead to infection.
2. Ear Discomfort Due to Change in Pressure
Ear barotrauma is the name of the ear discomfort that occurs when you experience a change in pressure. This happens commonly when there’s a change in altitude, such as when you’re on a plane.
Another common cause is deep-water diving. Luckily, it can usually be remedied without medical intervention—yawning or chewing gum are a couple of ways to relieve ear barotrauma.
3. Earwax Buildup
If the ear produces too much earwax, the excess wax will harden and cause a blockage. Attempting to clean out wax from the ear can actually push the wax farther inside the ear. This can lead to temporary hearing loss, as well as the possibility of infection and discomfort.
Cholesteatoma is a benign skin growth that is typically a result of frequent middle ear infections.
The growth is usually a cyst, and as it grows it can cause pressure and aching pain in the ear. Treating cholesteatoma is best handled by professionals, as it requires surgical removal.
5. Ear Pain Due to Toothache
Ear pain is not always due to internal complications. External factors can also be at fault. This is the case when ear discomfort coincides with tooth pain.
Cavities, incoming wisdom teeth, and gum disease are a few dental-related issues that can cause ear discomfort.
6. Middle Ear Infection
A middle ear infection, also known as otitis media, is what you’d consider the most common type of ear infection. It occurs when fluid and inflamed tissue build up between the inner ear and the eardrum.
The pain related to a middle ear infection is usually felt deeper in the ear. These infections often go away on their own, but occasionally they will require antibiotic treatment.
7. Sinus-Related Complications
A sinus infection is another external complication that can result in ear discomfort. Along with infections, allergies can also result in ear discomfort.
Typically, if it’s a result of sinus-related issues, ear pain is a result of built-up pressure.
Identifying and Treating the Problem
If you’re struggling to identify what’s causing your ear discomfort, it’s best to consult with your doctor. However, the list above will give you a starting point as you learn more about your ear pain and how to treat it!