The ear shares nerves with other nearby structures including the
face, eyes, jaw, teeth, and upper neck. Pain that feels as if it is in the ear
may actually originate in another structure in the head or neck. This is called
referred ear pain and is more common in older adults. While ear infections can
occur in adults, other causes of ear pain are more likely, including:
Diseases of the joints and muscles of the jaw
(temporomandibular [TM] dysfunction or TM disorders).
cervical spine problems.
Dental problems, such as impacted third
molars (wisdom teeth) or dental infections in the upper back
Other ear, nose, and throat infections. Examples are:
Infection of the
Infection of the voice box
Salivary gland infection.
Inflammation of the blood vessels in the temple
(giant cell arteritis).
Nerve problems such as trigeminal
neuralgia, which affects the nerves of the face.
Cancer of the head
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.