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Ear Ache vs. Ear Infection

Pain in the ear is a common condition that can impact people of all ages, though it’s more common in children. It can often be difficult to tell whether ear pain is an ear infection or another type of earache. Here, we’ll discuss the differences between these conditions and what you can do to resolve ear pain. 

Ear Ache

An earache refers to pain in the ears that may or may not be caused by an infection. There are multiple possible causes of an earache other than an infection, including:

  • Earwax impaction, with which excessive earwax has accumulated and hardened in the ear canal. This blocks the ear canal and may cause pain.
  • TMJ problems, which occur when the TMJ joint becomes inflamed due to grinding or arthritis 
  • Eustachian tube dysfunction, which can cause ear pain with quick changes in pressure
  • An ear injury
  • Dental problems, such as cavities, infected molars, or tooth abscesses

Ear Infection

Ear infections may be bacterial or viral, and develop behind the eardrum. Especially prevalent among children, ear infections typically cause pain and swelling. Oftentimes, ear infections will resolve on their own, but your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to clear up bacterial ear infections quicker. Children under the age of two typically always need antibiotics to eliminate an ear infection. 


Colds, allergies, and chronic illnesses can all increase the risk of developing ear infections. Ear infections also often develop after a respiratory infection or cold. In addition to pain and swelling, an ear infection can cause fever, trouble hearing, and drainage from the ear. 

If you experience ear pain that doesn’t go away within a few days, visit your doctor. A medical professional can pinpoint the cause of your pain and provide the appropriate treatment. 

For prompt treatment for ear pain, schedule an appointment at Florida Wellness Medical Group today.