Earaches may be caused by injury, infection, or irritation in the ear. Earaches may also be caused by referred pain. Referred pain is pain that is felt somewhere other than the site of the infection or injury. Pain originating in the jaw or teeth may be felt in the ear.

Many diseases can cause ear pain and since the ears are on the same nerve pathways as the cranial, facial, and spinal nerves, pain may be felt in the ears that originated in another area of the body. Common causes of earaches include: ear infection, changes in pressure, ear wax buildup, a foreign object in ear, sore throat, sinus infection, shampoo or water in the ear, use of cotton swabs in the ear. Less common causes of earaches include: temporomandibular joint (TMJ), syndrome, perforated eardrum, arthritis affecting the jaw, tooth infection, impacted tooth, eczema in the ear canal, trigeminal neuralgia (chronic facial nerve pain).

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