Read below about moderate ear canal pain, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your moderate ear canal pain from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Moderate Ear Canal Pain

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced moderate ear canal pain. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Swimmer's Ear (Otitis Externa)

    Swimmer's ear, also known as otitis externa, is inflammation, irritation, or infection of the outer ear and ear canal.

    7-10 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, jaw pain, ear pain that gets worse when moving
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Middle Ear Infection

    Middle ear infections, also known as otitis media, occur when the tubes that carry sound become clogged with debris like mucus.

    With proper treatment, middle ear infections generally resolve within a week.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, sore throat, new headache, fever, ear canal pain
    Symptoms that always occur with middle ear infection:
    ear canal pain
    Symptoms that never occur with middle ear infection:
    vertigo (extreme dizziness), face weakness, facial numbness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Temporomandibular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder

    The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located in front of the ear, and it connects the jaw to the side of the head. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a painful condition which can be caused by excess tension in jaw mucles, faulty alignment between upper and lower teeth, arthritis in the joint, or injury of the jaw or face.

    Outcome is highly case-dependent.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw, history of headaches, jaw pain, pain in the back of the neck
    Symptoms that always occur with temporomandibular joint (tmj) dysfunction disorder:
    pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Earwax Blockage

    Ear wax production is a normal process, as the body makes wax to protect the ear from infection. Sometimes ear wax can build up and cover the eardrum, which is a thin layer of skin that stretches across the end of the ear canal and picks up sound from outside. Ear wax buildup has nothing to do with poor hygiene, and it is not possible to prevent a build-up by washing.

    Condition likely will go away on its own after 5 days without treatment. However, with pain, dizziness, or feelings of fullness, the earwax should be removed.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, dry cough, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, ringing in the ears
    Symptoms that never occur with earwax blockage:
    swollen ear, fever
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  5. 5.Chronic Earwax Blockage

    Earwax production is a normal process, as the body makes wax to protect the ear from infection. Sometimes ear wax can build up and cover the eardrum which is a thin layer of skin that stretches across the end of the ear canal and picks up sound from outside.

    With treatment, the condition will resolve.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, dry cough, ear canal pain, ringing in the ears, ear fullness/pressure
    Symptoms that always occur with chronic earwax blockage:
    ear canal pain
    Symptoms that never occur with chronic earwax blockage:
    swollen ear, fever
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit

    Moderate Ear Canal Pain Checker

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  6. 6.Cholesteatoma (a Non - Cancerous Growth in the Ear)

    Cholesteatoma is a type of skin cyst that is located in the middle ear and mastoid bone in the skull. It can be a birth defect though more commonly occurs as a complication of chronic ear infection.

    Chronic, but curable

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    ear fullness/pressure, ringing in the ears, pain in one ear canal, vertigo (extreme dizziness), hearing loss in one ear
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Burst Ear Drum

    The ear drum is a thin membrane that vibrates as sound hits it, transmitting that vibration into signals that the brain understands! When it bursts, your hearing is affected. It typically happens after some force to the ear drum, such as a blow to the ear, an exploding firecracker, a fall onto water, or even a sharp object in the ear.

    Smaller perforations heal over days to weeks almost 100% of the time. Larger perforations may need a procedure. If healing doesn't happen in 8 weeks, surgery may be necessary.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    ear canal pain, constant ear pain, ringing in the ears, vertigo (extreme dizziness), hearing loss
    Symptoms that always occur with burst ear drum:
    ear canal pain, recent ear injury, constant ear pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Ear Plug Made of Skin Cells

    Keratosis Obturans is a rare disease where materials that make up the skin create a plug in the ear, causing pain, discharge, and hearing changes.

    Cured by removal

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    hearing loss, pain in one ear canal, ear discharge, hearing loss in both ears, severe ear canal pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Glue Ear (Otitis Media With Effusion)

    "Glue ear" is caused by fluid built up in the middle ear (under the eardrum). It happens more frequently in kids than adults because of having frequent colds and less developed tubes in the ear. In adults, it's caused by acute or chronic sinusitis in 66% of cases. It may also be caused by cigarette smoke, allergies, reflux, genetics, or bacteria, all of which stimulate the production of the fluid.

    63% get better in 3 months; 90% in 1 year

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    ear fullness/pressure, constant hearing loss, hearing loss in one ear, trouble hearing that is better in noisy environments, ear canal pain
    Symptoms that always occur with glue ear (otitis media with effusion):
    ear fullness/pressure, hearing loss in one ear, constant hearing loss
    Symptoms that never occur with glue ear (otitis media with effusion):
    ear canal pain, fever
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch
  10. 10.Acute Bacterial Sinusitis

    Acute bacterial sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become infected and, in turn, inflamed, which causes pain and other symptoms. The sinuses are air-filled cavities in the face that are generally clean and empty but when they're sick collect excess mucus and can become infected. When your symptoms are persisting for 10 days or more or are getting worse over time, it's more likely that you'll have a bacterial infection as compared to a viral infection.

    7-15 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, sinusitis symptoms, muscle aches
    Symptoms that always occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    clear runny nose, being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Moderate Ear Canal Pain

  • Q.Have you been experiencing dizziness?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Are you experiencing a headache?
  • Q.What makes your ear hurt worse?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our moderate ear canal pain symptom checker to find out more.

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Moderate Ear Canal Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced moderate ear canal pain have also experienced:

    • 22% Swollen Ear
    • 14% Pain in One Ear Canal
    • 5% Outer Ear Pain
  • People who have experienced moderate ear canal pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 43% Less Than a Week
    • 25% Less Than a Day
    • 13% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced moderate ear canal pain were most often matched with:

    • 36% Swimmer's Ear (Otitis Externa)
    • 36% Middle Ear Infection
    • 27% Temporomandibular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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