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What Diseases can Cause Left Ear Pain?

By Jami Yontz
Updated May 17, 2024
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Ear pain can be extremely uncomfortable, and sometimes it is hard to diagnose where the pain stems from, as it can be caused by a disease or condition in another part of the body. Bacterial or viral infections, blocked Eustachian tubes, and trauma can all cause pain in either ear. Ear pain may also a result of Meniere’s disease and myringitis. Anything that causes pain in the left ear could also potentially affect the right.

Otitis externa, also known as swimmer’s ear, can cause left ear pain when water becomes trapped in the ear canal, causing inflammation and pain. Trauma to the ear from a violent blow, from scratching the ear, or using swabs can also damage the ear canal and cause it to become inflamed. Otitis externa makes the ear sensitive, and it can be painful to touch.

An ear infection in the middle ear between the tympanic membrane and the inner portion of the ear, is referred to as otitis media. The Eustachian tube located in the middle ear can become inflamed and cannot properly drain fluid from the ear, creating pressure, a ringing noise, and pain. If not properly treated, the eardrum could rupture, and pus and fluid will drain into the ear canal. Common colds and viruses usually cause otitis media. Usually, the infection will heal naturally, but antibiotics may be necessary, and those who have chronic infections can have an ear tube inserted to promote normal drainage.

Meniere’s disease is caused by excess fluid in the inner ear in the area that controls balance and hearing. This causes dizziness, tinnitus, and pain, and it commonly only affects one ear. Most treatments will try to suppress the dizziness caused by this disease.

Infectious myringitis is caused by a virus or bacteria that infects the eardrum, and it can cause inflammation, pain, and loss of hearing in the ear. Fluid filled blisters can form within the ear canal and cause bloody discharge to drain from the ear. Antibiotics can be taken to rid the ear of infection if it's caused by a bacteria. Trauma to the ear, including using cotton swabs too frequently or forcefully, may also can lead to inflammation in the eardrum and pain.

Sometimes, left ear pain can be a result of conditions unrelated to the parts of the ear. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder caused by trauma to the jaw, joint inflammation, or grinding of the teeth can create pain that spreads to the ear. Tonsillitis, cervical spine arthritis, eczema, dermatitis, and tetanus can also cause ear pain.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Kristee — On Dec 22, 2012

@healthy4life – It's normal to have pain in the throat and in the ear when you have a cold. If it doesn't go away in about two or three weeks, you should see a doctor, though.

Colds usually last about two weeks, but many times, you can get a sinus infection from all the drainage. This happened to me a few weeks ago, and I had sharp pains in my ears and even in my cheeks!

I was having problems with sinus pain weeks after the cold had passed, and I had to go to my doctor. She gave me antibiotics to take for 10 days, and this stopped the ear pain and the face pain.

By healthy4life — On Dec 21, 2012

I have a sore throat and sinus issues, and the pain in my throat seems to go all the way through to my ear. It's hard for me to tell which one really hurts! Should I go have my ears examined, or should I wait and see if the ear pain fades as the sore throat goes away?

By shell4life — On Dec 20, 2012

I got swimmer's ear last summer, and I had the symptoms of an ear infection. For the first few days, I was just unable to hear very much out of the ear that had water trapped in it. Later, I started to feel pain inside my left ear, which is where most of the water was stuck.

I had to have antibiotics for this, but it could have been avoided. My doctor told me next time to just put alcohol into my ears after swimming, because it would dry up the water in them.

By orangey03 — On Dec 20, 2012

I have TMJ, and I sometimes have pain behind my left ear. The flareups of pain are not that frequent, but when they do happen, the pain is rather intense.

It's a shooting, throbbing pain that travels from my jaw to my ear and beyond. When I have it, all I can do is take acetaminophen and stop eating solid foods for awhile. I cannot chew gum, either.

I'm glad that this doesn't happen very often. The most bothersome thing about TMJ is the way that my jaw pops and sometimes locks whenever I yawn or open my mouth very wide. I'm glad I don't get the ear pain every time I yawn!

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