What Can Cause Sharp Pain In Ear?

Ear pain can often clear up on its own.

You do not need any treatment.

However, if you are experiencing sharp pain in ear, chances are, you need to do something.

Most people assume that earaches and ear pain are something that can happen only to little children, babies, and toddlers.

However, the reality is that we are all potential victims of pain.

In terms of ear pain, it can be dull, sharp, or burning.

The pain can be constant, or come and go at times.

With that in mind, what causes pain in the ear?

And are there any remedies that can help you?

Symptoms of an ear infection

Before we get to the causes and home remedies for ear infection, let’s take a look at the symptoms [1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8728460.

Sharp pain in your ear is just one of the possible symptoms.

Take a look at other symptoms.

For adults:

  • Earache, or sharp and sudden pain, or sometimes dull and continuous pain
  • Sharp stabbing pain with immediate warm drainage from the ear canal
  • Nausea
  • Muffled hearing
  • Ear drainage
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear

For children [2]https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/ear-infections-children:

  • Poor sleep
  • Fever
  • Ear drainage
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Tugging at the ear
  • Diminished appetite
  • Crying at night when lying down

What are the causes of ear pain?

Woman with ear pain

Our ears are a complex organ.

There are many moving parts.

And if anything impedes its ability to function at any of the various structure, the result might be pain and infection.

Here are some conditions that are known to cause ear infection resulting with ear pain [3]http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2017/08/study-ear-infection-profile-shows-change-after-pneumococcal-vaccine.

Ear wax

First things first, it is normal to have ear wax in your ears.

It is a normal presence.

Ear wax has a function of preventing the entry of dust and germs into your ears.

However, when there is excess wax in your ear, it becomes dried and hardens.

The result is shooting pain and feeling of fullness in the ear.

Ear barotrauma

If you’ve ever flown with a plane, you’ve experienced this.

Traveling at higher altitudes causes changes in pressure affecting the structure of your ear.

It happens also when you are hiking.

Changing altitudes can cause pain in the ear, but also stuffiness, and general discomfort.

Outer ear infection

Otherwise known as otitis externa, or swimmer’s ears, the outer ear infection is one of the most common causes of sharp pain in your ear.

The infection can result due to bacterial or fungal infection.

Middle ear infection

More often in young children than in adults, middle ear infection is something that happens when you are suffering from recurring colds [4]https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061106164651.htm.

One of the most common symptoms is children constantly tugging at the ear and complaining of shooting pain.

The pain gets worse at night, and the infection can affect hearing if not properly treated.

Eardrum rupture

The eardrum is known as tympanic membrane, and it plays a crucial role in the hearing process [5]https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ruptured-eardrum/symptoms-causes/syc-20351879.

Scuba diving, high altitude adventures, or inserting objects into your ear canal can cause eardrum damage or rupture.


Our body works in a mysterious way, and therefore, a lot of our organs are interconnected.

One of those connections is the sinus cavities and the ears.

When you experience an infection of the sinus cavities, the result is congestion, which can manifest as ear pain.

Sore throat

Irritation and inflammation of the throat will cause difficulty swallowing.

Another side effect of sore throat is pain in the ear.

Home remedies for ear pain

Warm compress

One way to treat ear infection and reduce pain and discomfort in the ear is to keep it warm [6]https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ear-infections/in-depth/ear-infection-treatment/art-20047613.

It might sound simple, but it is effective.

Just place a warm compress over your ear to alleviate pain and reduce the swelling.

Try some olive oil

Olive oil is a great lubricant.

As such, you can use it to massage your ear for relief from sharp ear pain.

Just put a drop of olive oil down the ear canal.

Plug it with a piece of cotton, and you have an effective treatment for your pain.

Try some steam

Steam is another cheap and effective remedy for ear pain.

Steam helps when the cause of ear pain is congested sinuses.

Lean your head over a steamy bowl of hot water.

Add few drops of eucalyptus essential oil, and breathe in deeply.

You can also take a steamy shower bath.

Clear your stuffy nose

When your nose is blocked or congested, you might feel sharp ear pain.

Blow your nose to release any mucus.

But you can also purchase remedies that help clear congested sinuses to get relief of the pain.

Hydrogen peroxide

It is one of the more well-known methods for relieving sharp pain in the ear.

And while there are pros and cons to the use of hydrogen peroxide, we leave it at your own choosing.

Hydrogen peroxide is a common solution for treating cuts and wounds, but also for ear pain.

Soak a cotton ball with the liquid, and then squeeze few drops into your ear.

Wait for few minutes as the solution clears and irrigates your ear.

Use water to further irrigate and clean leftovers of hydrogen peroxide.

Move your jaw

You will be surprised how many simple and effective remedies are there for pain in the ear.

One of those is moving your jaw.

All you have to do is move the jaw up and down in rapid succession and on a regular basis.

This will keep your ear canals open and clear, preventing and treating any pain.

Onion powder

Onion powder can be mixed with water for a thick paste for relieving ear pain.

Apply the paste to the outer ear to eliminate swelling and pain.

Up your vitamin consumption

Vitamins A, C, and E can help reduce inflammation and pain in the ear.

These vitamins are also needed to boost your immune system.

Consuming these vitamins on a regular basis will prevent ear pain, and when you are suffering, up your consumption to allow your body to fight off the infection.

Try herbal remedies

Herbal remedies include basil and peppermint juice.

You can use basil directly in the ear, while peppermint has to be diluted with water before usage.

Should you call a doctor?

As mentioned previously, in most cases, ear pain will go away on its own.

However, there are some situations when you have to schedule an appointment with a physician.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, check with a doctor.

  • Your body temperature rises above 100.4 degrees. Your fever signals the possibility of a more serious infection
  • You or your child frequently develop ear infections, as recurring infections can lead to hearing loss
  • You or your child experience hearing problems
  • Your child develops a stiff neck
  • You or your child are very lethargic, respond poorly, or is inconsolable

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