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"My right ear hurts, but why?"

ZocdocAnswersMy right ear hurts, but why?


I've noticed that the pain becomes sharp when I bite down and it is relieved when I open my mouth. The space behind the ear, just a little above the earlobe, hurts after feeling around. I don't think it could be swimming, but who knows, the water was a little... dirty. This happened nearly a week ago. I've had a history of issues with my right ear and I think because of it wax builds up faster than my left. Please help!


Ear pain can be caused by many different things, including diagnoses that may not involve the ear itself. Sometimes pain can be referred to another part of the body when the problem is actually somewhere else. From what you describe there are several possible explanations for your pain. First, you may have an intrinsic ear problem (too much wax buildup in the external ear canal; a middle or inner ear infection; fluid buildup behind the ear drum). Your physician should be able to examine the ear with an otoscope and tell whether or not there is evidence of either an external or internal ear infection, or excess wax that could contributing to your symptoms. However, it is also possible that you are experiencing pain in your ear that is originating from your jaw or even your teeth. The temporomandibular joint is exactly where you describe your pain, and if that joint is not aligned properly then opening and closing your mouth past a certain point and biting down on food can be very painful. Tooth problems in the upper jaw can also radiate pain to the area you describe. The best thing for you to do in this situation is start with a primary care physician for a thorough history and exam. Your doctor should be able to evaluate your ear, and if no abnormalities are noted there, it may be helpful for you to see another specialist to continue the investigation.

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