Pain occurring in the ears or behind the ears can be extremely uncomfortable. Pain behind ear can be mild, severe, or sharp or dull. Ear pain can occur due to a variety of illnesses. Most persons affected with pain behind the ear take pain medication hoping that the pain recedes. However, any person experiencing pain behind the ear should always obtain medical attention before taking any medication. Ignoring and not treating the root cause that is producing the ear pains can be dangerous and lead to complications in the future.
Pain behind ear may be accompanied by other symptoms. For example, fever accompanied with an ear pain may be due to an ear infection. This requires immediate medical treatment. Without treatment, the infection could spread to other parts of the body. With the close proximity to the brain, the spread of infection from the ear can be very dangerous. Other symptoms accompanied by ear pain include irritability and fussiness. These are common symptoms for persons suffering with ear pain.
Causes of Ear Pain
There are several causes of ear pain. Some may be directly related to the ears while others may stem from elsewhere. Sometimes, pain originating from the ear can also cause pain in the back of head.
- Otitis Media - Otitis media is commonly known as middle ear infection. Most often, otitis media begin with an infection. These infections can also cause sore throats and colds. The infections can either be bacterial or viral. Acute otitis media occurs rapidly. It has a short duration and occurs when fluid accumulates in the middle ear. Pain occurs with a bulging or perforated eardrum. Persistent inflammation of the ear is referred to as chronic otitis media. This occurs when fluid remains in the ear drum for a lengthy period. This condition may damage the middle ear and ear drum. Otitis media mostly affects young children. Treatment depends on the age and symptoms of the child.
- Enlarged Lymph Nodes - Lymph nodes are a part of the body's immune system. Lymph nodes are located in various parts of the body. Lymph nodes that enlarge or swell frequently can be found in the neck, armpit and groin. Sometimes, enlarged lymph nodes cause pain in the back of head. Lymph nodes swell for a variety of reasons. These range from infections and viruses to inflammation and cancer. If the pain in the back of head is due to cold or other common infections, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
- Mastoiditis - The mastoid bone is behind the ear, and mastoiditis is an infection in the mastoid bone. This infection is most often caused by acute otitis media. The infection that occurred in the middle ear spreads to the mastoid bone in the skull. Symptoms of mastoiditis include fluid draining from the ear, fever, headache, acute ear pain, redness and swelling behind the ear and loss of hearing. Antibiotics are used to treat mastoiditis.
- Swimmer's Ear - Infection of the outer ear canal is termed swimmer's ear. Water retention in the ear accumulates while swimming and this encourages bacteria growth. Swimmer's ear symptoms include itching in the ear, redness inside the ear, and fluid drainage. An advanced infection causes symptoms such as enlarged lymph nodes, fever and complete blocking of the ear canal. Treatment methods include cleaning the ear, the prescription of antibiotics, antifungal medications and ear-drops.
- Ceruminosis - Excessive accumulation of wax build-up in the ear causes ceruminosis. Excess ear wax causes blockage in the inner ear leading to hearing loss and ear pain. Removal of ear wax restores hearing and alleviates ear pain.
- Infected Tooth - Sometimes, a tooth abscess or an infected tooth may also cause pain behind ear. An infected tooth causes swelling of the lymphatic glands. Such swollen glands can cause the pain behind the ear.
There are numerous other causes of pain behind the ear. These include temporomandibular joint syndrome, a blocked Eustachian tube, barotraumas, arthritis of the jaw and sinus infections. Persistent pain behind ear or pain in back of head should be brought to a doctor's attention and applicable treatments should be adhered to cure the prevailing conditions that are causing the pain. It is strictly advisable to steer clear of self treatment or applications of various remedies when experiencing ear pain, which can worsen the situation and also cause permanent ear damage.