What are the Different Kinds of Ear Problems?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt
If an ear problem persist, a doctor may need to be consulted.
If an ear problem persist, a doctor may need to be consulted.

A variety of conditions can result in ear problems. While an infection is often the culprit of ear pain, many other circumstances may produce an earache as a symptom. A diagnosis from a physician is typically required to determine the exact cause of most ear problems.

Otis media, or a middle ear infection, is characterized by deep ear pain, as well as fluid present within the ear. Similarly, a pimple that can be seen in the ear canal may be a minor infection. While ear infections may clear up on their own within one to two weeks, a physician can make an accurate diagnosis, and determine whether or not a treatment, such as use of antibiotics, is needed. He or she can also prescribe pain medication if needed.

Middle ear infections and ruptured eardrums are two common ear problems.
Middle ear infections and ruptured eardrums are two common ear problems.

Severe ear problems should be examined by a doctor. If an ear, as well as the area surrounding it, is red and swollen, a serious infection may be present. Another pressing condition requiring immediate medical attention is a ruptured eardrum, which involves a very sharp, sudden pain followed by thick, pus-filled or bloody drainage leaking from the ear canal. Mastoiditis, an infection of the bone behind the ear, may present itself through headache pain and redness, or tenderness, behind the ear. Alternatively, this could signify an enlarged lymph node as well; both cases do require medical attention.

An infection of the inner ear, technically known as labyrinthitus, can hamper a person's normal sense of balance.
An infection of the inner ear, technically known as labyrinthitus, can hamper a person's normal sense of balance.

Other ear problems can be benign. For example, during or following a flight, barotrauma, or "popping" in the ears, can result from changes in altitude or pressure. Barotrauma typically fades quickly; however, if pain is severe or lasts for hours, a doctor visit may be required for treatment. Otitis externa, or "swimmer's ear," is an infection that is usually easily treated. Swimmer's ear often involves a swollen ear that itches or hurts when it is pulled on.

Earaches in children are often related to tonsillitis.
Earaches in children are often related to tonsillitis.

Some ear problems may seem entirely ear-related when, in fact, they are symptoms of another condition altogether. If ear pain occurs while biting down, and coincides with tooth pain, it may be a tooth issue requiring dental treatment. Ear pain during jaw cracking, or in conjunction with jaw tenderness, may be a symptom of Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), which is actually a jaw joint disorder. Severe pain, or lack of improvement within two weeks, warrants a doctor or dentist visit. Fluid, pressure and stuffiness unable to be cleared by coughing or swallowing, combined with cold symptoms, may actually be a blocked eustacian tube, which may either go away on its own, or need to be checked by a doctor if it persists for days.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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    • If an ear problem persist, a doctor may need to be consulted.
      By: JPC-PROD
      If an ear problem persist, a doctor may need to be consulted.
    • Middle ear infections and ruptured eardrums are two common ear problems.
      By: Alila Medical Media
      Middle ear infections and ruptured eardrums are two common ear problems.
    • An infection of the inner ear, technically known as labyrinthitus, can hamper a person's normal sense of balance.
      By: kasto
      An infection of the inner ear, technically known as labyrinthitus, can hamper a person's normal sense of balance.
    • Earaches in children are often related to tonsillitis.
      By: Dmitry Naumov
      Earaches in children are often related to tonsillitis.
    • Ear plugs can help prevent trauma from loud noises that over time can cause hearing loss.
      By: autayeu
      Ear plugs can help prevent trauma from loud noises that over time can cause hearing loss.
    • Although not painful, middle ear effusion may cause a feeling of pressure in the ear.
      By: Von Schonertagen
      Although not painful, middle ear effusion may cause a feeling of pressure in the ear.
    • Ear problems may be related to issues a person is having with their jaw or teeth.
      By: sergmar
      Ear problems may be related to issues a person is having with their jaw or teeth.
    • Antibiotic ear drops are often prescribed for an ear infection like swimmer's ear.
      By: JackF
      Antibiotic ear drops are often prescribed for an ear infection like swimmer's ear.
    • Children experiencing inflamed nasal and throat passages may be more susceptible to developing a secondary condition, such as an ear infection.
      By: julaszka
      Children experiencing inflamed nasal and throat passages may be more susceptible to developing a secondary condition, such as an ear infection.