Sharp Pain In The Ear: Causes And Symptoms

Feeling a sharp pain in the ear is quite a common occurrence. However, while painful ears may not necessarily spell trouble, it does not mean that you should ignore it when it happens. Pain in the ear is known as otalgia by doctors. There are many different possible causes and symptoms of pain in the ear, such as TMJ disorder. Read on to find out more about the causes and symptoms of sharp pain in the ear!

Why Does Pain Occur in the Ears?

Pain in the ears may be a result of one or a few different factors. Our ears are made up of a tube known as the eustachian tube. This tube is in charge of regulating pressure within the ear. However, if the tube gets blocked, it may result in an imbalance in pressure. External pressure changes can result in symptoms like dizziness, hearing loss, pressure within the ear, or dull or sharp pain within the ear.

Sinus Infections Can Result in Ear Pain

Sometimes, sinus infections can result in sharp ear pain. This happens when the ear gets inflamed and infected, which is the most common type of sinus infection. The mastoid bone which is located behind the ear can also get infected, leading to ear pain. One may also experience ear pain when the paranasal sinuses get inflamed. The paranasal sinus is in charge of nasal mucus production.


Otitis refers to the infection of the outer or the inner ear and is a very common cause of ear pain. When the inner ear gets affected, the eustachian tube, which connects the upper throat and the back of the nasal cavity, may feel tender and painful.

On the other hand, when the outer ear gets infected, the ear canal is affected which can lead to irritation and pain in the ear.

Foreign Objects Lodged in the Ear

When a foreign object gets lodged in the ear canal, it may also result in ear pain. For instance, sometimes children may insert foreign objects into their ears as they are curious. This may lead to dull or sharp pain within the ears, infections, drainage from the ears as well as hearing loss. If this happens, it is important to visit a healthcare provider who is able to use proper procedures and tools to remove the object.

Temporomandibular Disorder

Temporomandibular disorder is also known as TMD. This joint is responsible for connecting the jawbone to the skull. When someone has a temporomandibular disorder, they may experience dull or sharp pains which may radiate in the temples and the ears. Other symptoms of temporomandibular disorder include difficulty in opening the mouth fully, grinding, popping, and clicking noises when opening and closing the jaw, as well as the jaw locking when opening the mouth.

Patients are sometimes diagnosed and treated many times for an ear infection, when it is actually a TMD disorder. An associated hearing loss or ear drainage is expected if it was really an ear infection. Many patients struggle with having ear pain for years before realizing that the root cause is linked to TMD. If you experience ear pain, you might want to find out if TMD is actually the main issue.
If you are feeling a sharp pain in the ear, it is important to seek the help of a medical professional. Head Pain Institute is a reliable and established healthcare provider that can help with the ear pain that you are experiencing, if it is not due to an infection. Feel free to schedule an appointment with us to treat your ear pain today!