Common Causes of Ear Pain in Iowa Skip to Main Content

Common Causes of Ear Pain for Adults in Iowa

– 4.5 minute read

Wondering What Might Be Causing Your Earache?
At Concept by Iowa Hearing, we understand ear pain and earaches can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience. From sharp pains to dull aches, conditions like these can disrupt your day-to-day life. If you’re someone who experiences ear pain frequently, it’s essential to identify the cause of this discomfort. Even a one-time event can be a reason to seek professional help. While there are many possible ear pain causes, some are more common than others. Learning more about the most frequent causes of ear pain will help guide you to proper care.

Middle Ear Infections
Middle ear infections are one of the most common causes of ear pain. These infections usually occur when fluid builds up behind the eardrum, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. This type of infection can include fever, ear pain, and difficulty hearing. If you suspect you have a middle ear infection, seeing a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is essential.

Swimmer’s Ear
Swimmer’s ear is another common cause of ear pain. This condition occurs when water gets trapped in the ear canal, creating a moist environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and fungi. Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include a feeling of fullness in the ear, ear pain, itching, and discharge. Even though it’s called swimmer’s ear, you can get it in the shower too. To prevent swimmer’s ear, be sure to dry your ears thoroughly after swimming or showering. Ear protection, such as plugs, is a good idea if you swim regularly or are prone to getting water in your ears.

Ear Cartilage Pain
Ear cartilage pain can occur when the cartilage that connects your ear to your skull becomes inflamed. This condition is often caused by trauma, such as getting hit in the ear or sleeping on your side for too long. However, it is also a side effect of some autoimmune diseases. Symptoms of ear cartilage pain include tenderness, swelling, and redness. See a healthcare provider for ear pain relief recommendations if you have ear cartilage discomfort or swelling.

Middle Ear Fluid
Fluid can build up in the middle ear due to a cold or sinus infection. If you’re experiencing this, it can cause a feeling of fullness in the ear and difficulty hearing. A healthcare provider can accurately diagnose and recommend treatment options if you suspect you have middle ear fluid buildup.

Perforated Eardrum
A perforated eardrum occurs when a hole or tear develops in the eardrum. Various factors, including loud noises, infection, and trauma, can cause this condition. Symptoms of a perforated eardrum include ear pain, ringing in the ear, and difficulty hearing. If you suspect you have a perforated eardrum, visit an audiologist at an ear health center for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Earwax Buildup
Cerumen impaction, also known as earwax buildup, is another common cause of ear pain and conductive hearing loss. Our ears naturally produce earwax to protect the canal from damage and infections. However, when it accumulates excessively, it can lead to a blockage. This blockage can cause discomfort or aching in the ear, reduced hearing ability, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), dizziness, and, in severe cases, an infection. If you suspect you’re dealing with earwax buildup, you shouldn’t try to remove the wax with a cotton swab or other tools, as this can push the wax further into the ear canal or damage the eardrum. Instead, visit a healthcare provider who can safely remove the earwax and alleviate the pain.

Eustachian Tube Blockage
The Eustachian tubes are small passages that connect the middle ear to the back of the throat, helping to regulate ear pressure. When these tubes become blocked, typically due to a cold, flu, or sinus infection, it can lead to a buildup of fluid and pressure in the middle ear. This condition, known as Eustachian tube dysfunction, can cause feelings of fullness, discomfort, or mild to severe pain in the ear. It can also bring symptoms such as tinnitus, hearing difficulties, and sometimes dizziness. If this sounds like what you’re experiencing, seek medical attention, as it can lead to more severe conditions such as a middle ear infection.

Ménière’s Disease
Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can also result in significant ear pain. This chronic condition is characterized by recurrent episodes of vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear. The exact cause of Ménière’s disease is unknown, but it’s believed to be related to an abnormal volume or composition of fluid in the inner ear, causing swelling, or hydrops, that triggers the characteristic symptoms of Ménière’s disease. Ear pain can range from a mild ache to an intense, throbbing pain. As always, if you’re experiencing persistent ear pain, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Don’t Ignore the Symptoms of Ear Pain
A treatment plan for ear pain relief depends on the underlying cause, which makes seeking medical attention a critical step for prolonged conditions that cause intense pain or come with hearing loss. While some types of ear pain may go away on their own, those that don’t can cause additional health concerns or infections. Treatment may include ear drops, oral medications, or surgical methods. If you’re experiencing ear pain, see a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. If your earache comes with hearing loss, we offer hearing tests and evaluations and physical exams of the ear to diagnose earwax buildup, abnormalities, and infections at our hearing care centers throughout Iowa.

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