Common Causes of Earache

  1. Ear Infections: One of the primary causes of earache is an infection in the ear. This can be either an outer ear infection (otitis externa) or a middle ear infection (acute otitis media). Ear infections are often accompanied by redness, swelling, and fluid accumulation, leading to pain and discomfort.1
  2. Eustachian Tube Dysfunction: The Eustachian tubes connect the middle ear to the back of the throat, helping to equalize pressure. When these tubes become blocked or fail to function properly, pressure can build up, leading to earache.
  3. Wax Buildup: Excessive earwax accumulation can cause ear pain by obstructing the ear canal or pressing against the eardrum. It is essential to have earwax removed properly by your healthcare provider to avoid further complications. For example, using Q-tips may push the earwax further down the outer ear canal towards your eardrum. 
  4. Foreign Objects: Inserting objects into the ear, such as cotton swabs or hairpins, can scratch or irritate the ear canal, leading to pain and potential injury.
  5. Trauma or Injury: Injury to the ear, such as a blow to the head or damage to the eardrum, can cause severe earache. These cases often require immediate medical attention.
  6. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction: This is a condition affecting the joints of the jaw as well as the muscles and ligaments surrounding them. This occurs as a result of jaw injury, teeth grinding or clenching, arthritis or malocclusion of the teeth. This can cause headaches and ear pain, among other symptoms.3

How Do You Cure An Earache Naturally

In some cases, mild earache can be effectively managed at home using natural remedies. These include:
  • Using a warm or cold compress
  • Chewing gum or sucking on a lolly
  • Softening earwax
  • Changing your sleeping position
  • Over the counter pain relievers

See our article How to Relieve Earaches and Ear Pain: 5 Natural Remedies for more details.

It is important to note that while these natural remedies may offer temporary relief, they may not address the underlying cause of the earache. If the pain persists or worsens, it is best to seek medical advice.

What Medical Interventions Help Earache

In certain situations, medical intervention is necessary to treat the underlying cause of ear pain. Here are some instances where medical attention is required:
  1. Severe or Prolonged Pain: If the earache is severe or lasts longer than a day, it is important to consult a healthcare professional. They can evaluate the condition and recommend appropriate treatment
  2. Ear Infections: If the ear pain is accompanied by symptoms such as fever, discharge from the ear, or hearing loss, it may indicate an ear infection. Antibiotics or other prescription medications (e.g. pain-relieving ear drops) from your doctor or ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist may be necessary to treat the infection effectively.
  3. Injury or Trauma: If there has been trauma to the ear, head or jaw, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. The healthcare provider will assess the extent of the injury and provide appropriate treatment.
  4. Chronic Ear Problems: If you have a history of recurrent ear infections, chronic conditions such as swimmer's ear, or frequent blockages due to excessive earwax, it is advisable to consult an ENT specialist for further evaluation and management.2

Remember, self-diagnosis and self-medication may not always be appropriate for earache. It is best to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.


In conclusion, ear pain can be caused by various factors, including infections, blockages, or injury.

While natural remedies like changing sleeping position, softening earwax with olive oil, warm or cold compresses, chewing gum or sucking on a lolly and taking over the counter pain relievers can provide temporary relief, it is crucial to seek medical attention in cases of severe or prolonged pain, ear infections, trauma or injury, and chronic ear problems.

Consulting a healthcare professional ensures proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment, leading to effective management of earache and prevention of further complications.


  1. Mayo Clinic Staff (2021). Retrieved from on 27 June 2023.
  2. NHS (2021). Earache. Retrieved from on 27 June 2023.
  3. Mayo Clinic Staff (2017). Bruxism. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from on 27 June 2023.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. You should not use the information as a substitute for, nor should it replace, professional medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.