Have you ever experienced a sharp pain in the ear? This phenomenon, known medically as otalgia, may be alarming, but in many cases, it does not warrant serious concern. In this post, we review the common causes of ear pain and how each is treated.
If you’ve ruptured your eardrum, it means it was torn or punctured. There are many potential causes for a ruptured eardrum, including foreign objects in the ear (like cotton swabs), acoustic trauma (exposure to very loud sounds), barotrauma (rapid changes in air pressure), middle ear infections and severe head trauma. In addition to sharp ear pain, a ruptured eardrum can cause symptoms such as drainage from the ear, hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), vertigo (spinning sensation) and nausea.
You should see an expert ENT physician if you suspect you’ve ruptured your eardrum. While they might take a wait-and-see approach, they may prescribe antibiotics to prevent an infection or place a patch to help the eardrum heal.
Ear Infection (Otitis)
You can develop an infection in your outer ear (otitis externa) or your middle ear (otitis media). Both types of infections can cause sharp ear pain. You may experience an outer ear infection if water becomes trapped in your ear after swimming in O’Connor Pool. You may experience a middle ear infection if you have a respiratory infection or allergies that causes inflammation of the Eustachian tubes, meaning fluid cannot drain from the middle ears.
ENTs may also suggest a wait-and-see approach for ear infections, or they may prescribe antibiotics or ear tubes.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder
While TMJ disorder is most often associated with problems with the jaw, like clicking, popping and grinding sounds as well as lockjaw, it can also cause ear problems like tinnitus or sharp ear pain that radiates to your temples.
TMJ disorder is most often treated with oral appliances and mouthguards to prevent you from grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an expert ENT physician, call Pinnacle ENT today.