Why do my ears hurt?7 common causes of ear pain


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Although ear pain in children is typically due to ear infections, in adults it is often due to other problems, some of which do not originate in the ear itself, experts say.

“Most of the time when your ear hurts, it's not your ear's fault,” says Oliver F. Adunka, MD, director of the Division of Otology, Neurootology, and Skull Base Surgery at the College of Medicine from The Ohio State University. “Usually it's due to something else in the body that radiates to the ear.”

Dr. Adunka says that a visit to an ear, nose, and throat doctor (otolaryngologist) can identify the cause of the pain and resolve it easily in many cases.

Why do my ears hurt? 7 common causes of ear pain

But if you experience bleeding or discharge from the ear, ringing, sudden dizziness, or hearing loss, these could be signs of a serious medical problem and you should contact your health care provider.

Here are some common causes of ear pain and what to know about each.

1. Jaw Disorder (or Toothache)

If you're experiencing sharp ear pain, "like a shooting sensation in the ear," it could be the result of temporomandibular disorder (TMD), says Adunka. It is also known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) because it affects the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. This disorder can occur if you grind your teeth or if arthritis wears away the cartilage that surrounds your jaw joint, he explains. If you've recently had orthodontic treatment, that can also trigger temporomandibular joint pain.