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Learn about your severe ear canal pain, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your severe 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.

Severe Ear Canal Pain Checker

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Your Severe Ear Canal Pain May Also be Known as:
Ear canal extremely painful
Ear canal hurts extremely
Ear canal hurts severely
Ear canal hurts unbearably
Ear canal severely painful
Ear canal unbearably painful
Extreme ear canal pain
Extreme inner ear pain
Inner ear extremely painful
Inner ear hurts extremely

Top 10 Severe Ear Canal Pain Causes

  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.

    You should go to your primary care doctor in the next day or so. There, diagnosis can be confirmed by observation. Treatment with antibiotic drops will be started.

    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.Temporomandibiular 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.

    You should visit your primary care physician. This is a complex condition to treat, because the causes are not always clear. Treatment may include resting the jaw with a soft diet, pain medications, and physical therapy.

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

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

    Your should go to your primary care doctor in the next day for an ear examination. It is likely your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, sore throat, fever, new headache, mucous dripping in the back of the throat
    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
  4. 4.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.

    You should go see your primary care doctor in the next few days, where he/she can diagnose this by looking at the ear. Removal is needed for you to go back to normal.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    hearing loss, ear discharge, pain in one ear canal, hearing loss in both ears, pain in both ear canals
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Chronic Ear Infection (Suppurative Otitis Media)

    Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media is persistent drainage from the middle ear due to a damaged membrane. It is considered chronic when it lasts for more than 6 weeks.

    You should visit your primary care physician, who may suggest topical therapy or systemic therapy. Topical antibiotics are the first line of treatment for most patients.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    hearing loss in one ear, ear canal pain, pus leaking from the ear
    Symptoms that always occur with chronic ear infection (suppurative otitis media):
    pus leaking from the ear
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Severe Ear Canal Pain Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having severe ear canal pain.

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  6. 6.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.

    You should go to a retail clinic to be treated. You should NOT try removing the wax with cotton swabs, because you run the risk of pushing the ear wax further into the ear canal, and potentially damaging the ear canal or eardrum. A variety of ear drops exist that can be bought at the pharmacy, such as Debrox, Murine, and Cerumenex. You may also use other remedies such as mineral oil, baby oil, or glycerin ear drops instead of brand-name drops.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, vertigo (extreme dizziness), ringing in the ears
    Symptoms that never occur with earwax blockage:
    swollen ear, fever
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  7. 7.Cerebral Venous Thrombosis

    Cavernous sinus thrombosis is a blood clot in an area at the base of the brain that contains a vein, which carries blood from the brain to the heart. This area is called the cavernous sinus.

    You should go emergently to the hospital, where imaging and medication will confirm the diagnosis and begin to reduce the clot. This is a life-threatening diagnosis.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, fatigue, nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, being severely ill
    Symptoms that always occur with cerebral venous thrombosis:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  8. 8.Viral (Rotavirus) Infection

    Rotavirus is a virus that causes an infection of the gut, known as gastroenteritis. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and fever. When the diarrhea and/or vomiting is severe, dehydration can occur. Symptoms of dehydration include a dry mouth, dizziness, urinating less frequently and dark urine.

    You can safely treat this condition at home. Make sure you drink plenty of water and fluids to replace what is lost with diarrhea. Eat as normally as possible. If symptoms of dehydration occur, or you are unable to keep down any liquids, seek care at your primary care physician or an urgent care.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain (stomach ache), headache, loss of appetite
    Symptoms that always occur with viral (rotavirus) infection:
    hidden: gastroenteritis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with viral (rotavirus) infection:
    constipation, tarry stool
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  9. 9.Viral Infection of the Larynx (Voice Box)

    Acute laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box (larynx) due to infection.The vocal cords are located inside the larynx. Normally, the vocal cords open and close freely, but in laryngitis, they become inflamed. This swelling causes distortion of the sounds produced by air passing over them, making one's resulting voice sound hoarse.

    You can safely treat this medical condition by yourself, as it is likely a viral infection. Home remedies such as gargling with salt water and staying hydrated will likely be enough to restore a lost voice.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    sore throat, fever, runny nose, dry cough, hoarse voice
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  10. 10.Viral Throat Infection

    Viral pharyngitis is an inflammation of the pharynx, the part of the throat between the nasal cavity and mouth, which causes throat pain.

    Antibiotics are not useful for viral infections. You can gargle with salt water and use over the counter pain medication like Tylenol to treat your painful or sore throat.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    sore throat, cough, congestion, fever, hoarse voice
    Symptoms that always occur with viral throat infection:
    sore throat
    Symptoms that never occur with viral throat infection:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Severe Ear Canal Pain

  • Q.Is your ear pain getting better or worse?
  • Q.How long has your ear pain been going on?
  • Q.Is your ear pain constant or come-and-go?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our severe ear canal pain symptom checker.

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Severe Ear Canal Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

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

    • 18% Trouble Speaking
    • 9% Severe Jaw Pain
    • 9% Dizziness
  • People who have experienced severe ear canal pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 44% Less Than a Week
    • 24% Less Than a Day
    • 12% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced severe ear canal pain were most often matched with:

    • 41% Swimmer's Ear (Otitis Externa)
    • 25% Temporomandibiular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder
    • 25% Middle Ear Infection

Severe Ear Canal Pain Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having severe ear canal pain.

Take a quiz