Earache in Adults
People often make an immediate association between earache and ear infection. However, discomfort in and around the ear can be caused by many different problems. This guide will cover the more common reasons for an ear ache.
Since an ear infection is such a common reason for ear pain, let's consider this possibility first.
Most ear infections occur inside the ear. Usually there is no sign of infection on the outside. Redness, pain and swelling on the outside of the ear indicate a different type of infection.
Do you see any redness or swelling on the outside part of the ear?
The discomfort is likely related to a problem deeper in the ear canal or behind the ear drum. An infection may cause just discomfort or it may make you fell unwell with fever and body aches.
Do you have one or more of the following symptoms?
nasal congestion or other cold symptoms
pain when you tug on your earlobe.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.