Sharp pain in the ear: what causes it

The ears are rather sensitive body parts, subject to various stresses. Sometimes it can therefore feel a little discomfort which is not a cause for great concern. However, it becomes more intense and becomes acute or excruciating pain. In that case, it is good to investigate the causes, to prevent the situation from worsening or leading to further complications.

Most common causes of ear pain

  • Infections
  • Sinus infection
  • Jaw muscle problem
  • Foreign objects in the ear
  • Neuralgia


Ear infections are one of the most common causes of acute pain. This condition can also cause inflammation, swelling, and fluid to leak from the ear and occurs when bacteria or viruses enter this area. The reasons can differ: from a severe cold to an allergy, up to the water that remains in the ear after being in the pool without having dried well once you get out. Inserting a foreign object, such as a cotton swab or dirty finger, can also lead to this epilogue.

A mild ear infection can make the ear red, itchy, and uncomfortable, but as it gets worse, the pain tends to increase and can also radiate to the face, neck, or side of the head and be present when swallowing. Other symptoms of an ear infection are dull hearing, swelling, and sometimes fever.

Mild ear infections sometimes resolve independently or can be managed with natural remedies. Still, if the pain is severe, it could be a more serious infection, which can be treated with antibiotics or antifungal drugs prescribed by your doctor. Doctor following a specific visit.

Over-the-counter painkillers can also relieve pain, but always on medical advice.

Sinus infection

Sinus infections occur when the tissue lining the sinuses becomes clogged and filled with fluid, usually due to cold, seasonal allergies, or a deviated septum.

Sinus infections typically cause pain or pressure around the nose and eyes, runny nose, green or yellow nasal discharge, and bad breath. However, the pain may travel to the ears, although it is usually not sharp or stabbing unless the infection is severe.

Sharp pain in the ear: what causes it

Using decongestants and nasal washes can help clear your sinuses, as can staying hydrated and applying warm compresses. However, these natural remedies are insufficient if the pain becomes more intense or the symptoms do not subside after ten days. In this case, a course of antibiotics or more precise treatment may be necessary, so informing the doctor of your condition is good.

Jaw muscle problem

Jaw discomfort or pain accompanied by headaches, a popping sensation, pain that spreads around the eyes or face, and earache or ringing can be caused by the temporomandibular disorder. This problem, in turn, is often due to bruxism.

If you doubt that a temporomandibular disorder caused by the unconscious habit of grinding your teeth in your sleep is causing ear pain, you should consult your doctor to treat this behavior.

Foreign objects in the ear

Babies and children are more prone than adults to get foreign objects in their ears, such as food, beads, small toys, or insects, but no one is immune from this eventuality.

When this happens, you will likely feel pain because a foreign body is putting pressure on the ear canal and, in some cases, on the eardrum, which is very sensitive. If the foreign body causes an infection, the pain can increase.

An object lodged in the ear can also cause ringing, dull hearing, or, in the case of a live insect, a slight tickle.

Sharp pain in the ear: what causes it

If you can see the object clearly and it is easy to grasp, you can try to remove it with clean tweezers, but be very careful and avoid Q-tips, which can push it further in or damage the eardrum.

Using a rubber bulb syringe filled with warm water can also help, especially if there is an insect; pouring in a small amount of warm olive oil.

However, if the foreign body is difficult to grasp or if there are signs of infection, it is better not to deal with it personally but to consult a doctor because it may be necessary to proceed with methods of suction, heavier irrigation, or in the most serious cases, undergoing A surgery.


A stabbing or sharp pain in the ear that comes and goes could be a sign of trigeminal neuralgia, a nerve problem that causes painful, lightning-like sensations around the face, triggered by touching the face, chewing, talking, or brushing the teeth.

Sharp pain in the ear: what causes it

To deal with these problems, there are different drugs and other solutions, such as injections or surgery. For this reason, in the case of neuralgia, you must contact your doctor to evaluate the best solution.

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