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What Conditions can Cause Right Ear Pain?

By Solomon Branch
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The conditions that can cause right ear pain are varied, but they are most often due to infection or trauma. Other causes can be nerve damage, something physically caught in the ear, or a growth or tumor. The pain can also come from some other condition or from another part of the body, known as “referred” pain.

Infection is one of the most common causes of pain in the right ear. Symptoms will most often reflect the location of the infection. Outer ear canal infections, known as swimmer's ear, will cause pain of the outer ear and possibly also loss of hearing. Middle ear infections are commonly caused by a cold or upper respiratory infection and present the same symptoms as outer ear infections, but patients may also experience issues relating to balance such as vertigo or dizziness. Medical attention should be sought if an infection is suspected.

When trauma is the cause of right ear pain, the cause is often quite obvious. Typical causes of trauma are a loud noise, picking at or in the ear, or a hit to the ear such as during athletics or a car accident. Usually, loss of hearing and ear pain are the main symptoms. Sometimes the ear will bleed or become red and inflamed. Changes in air pressure, such as when flying or scuba diving, can also cause right ear pain.

If caused by infection or trauma, pain in the right ear will almost always be treated in some form, such as with a protective bandage, antibiotics, or both. Occasionally, home remedies can be sufficient, but whatever the cause, it is almost always a good idea to consult with a physician. The ear is a delicate mechanism and there is always a risk of permanent damage and hearing loss if left untreated.

There are other less common causes of right ear pain. Tumors or a growth on the ear, either caused by a cancerous growth or an infection of the skin of the ear, such as a boil, can cause pain. Sometimes ear pain is caused by referred pain, which is pain from another area of the body that radiates to the ear. There can be many causes of referred pain, but they usually involve problems with the area of the jaw, head, or tongue. One example of this is trigeminal neuralgia, an inflammation of the nerve along the face that often refers pain to the ear.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1002382 — On Nov 12, 2019

My right ear just started hurting me four days ago from outer part. I'm going to make an appointment to see the doctor.

By burcidi — On Mar 27, 2013

@burcinc-- I don't have pain in my outer ear, I have pain inside due to eardrum damage from chronic ear infections.

Have you tried acupuncture for your problem? I'm not a doctor but I have a relative who experienced something like this and she found a lot of relief from acupuncture. The acupuncture specialist told her that she has a compressed nerve in her ear. You might be experiencing something similar.

I think you should keep bothering your ENT specialist until you get a diagnosis. If your current doctor cannot figure it out, you should be directed to another specialist. I don't think it's good enough for a doctor to say "I don't know" and not do anything about it.

By burcinc — On Mar 26, 2013

My right ear has been hurting for years! It's not the inside of my ear but the outer part. I've been to several ear, nose and throat specialists and they haven't been able to diagnose me.

My ear hurts as I type this! Is anyone else experiencing a similar problem? I want to know why it's happening, I feel so helpless!

By bear78 — On Mar 26, 2013

I have chronic migraines that usually only affect the right part of my head. When I get a migraine, it almost always causes pain in my right ear. Sometimes I have trouble hearing from that ear because of it. It's very unpleasant.

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