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What Causes Shooting Pain In Your Ear?

Earache shooting pain is a possible symptom in adults and is usually followed by immediate warm drainage from the ear canal.

It is frequently accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, muffled hearing, or a feeling of fullness in the ear.

What Starts An Ear Infection?

Most often, what causes ear infections are other illnesses, such as colds, the flu, or allergies. An ear infection results when the bacterium or virus that caused the initial illness spreads to the middle ear. The nasal passages, throat, and eustachian tubes get congested and swell as a result, contributing to an ear infection.

What Causes Ear Infections In Adults?

Although far less common in adults than children, adult ear infections are more likely to develop during the fall and winter months. Adults with seasonal allergies may develop ear pain.

Other factors that increase the risk for adult ear infections include:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic skin injections
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke or air pollutants
  • A history of congenital anomalies, like cleft palate


Ear infection symptoms may develop rapidly and can indicate a variety of conditions. For this reason, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment.

Ear Infection Signs In Children Can Include:

  • Tugging or pulling at the ear
  • Ear pain that worsens when lying down
  • Frequent crying
  • Fussiness
  • Trouble hearing
  • A loss of balance
  • A fever of 100.4ºF or above
  • Ear drainage
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite

Ear Infection Symptoms In Adults:

  • Ear pain
  • Ear drainage
  • Difficulty hearing

Visit MD Now if ear infection symptoms last for more than one day, are present in a child younger than six months old, or your infant or toddler becomes irritable during or after an upper respiratory infection. Please note, MD Now providers evaluate patients ages 3 months and up.

Adults should seek treatment if ear pain is present, worsening, or when any ear symptoms progress.


When Should You Be Concerned About Ear Pain?

Although an earache or sore throat alone is rarely cause for concern, a combination of throat and ear pain may be a sign of tonsillitis, strep throat, or another condition requiring treatment. Your MD Now provider will ask you about your symptoms and their severity, along with performing an exam, to determine whether further treatment is needed.

Additional causes of throat and ear pain can include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Allergies
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Irritants
  • Mononucleosis
  • TMD (temporomandibular joint disorders)
  • Tooth infection

When Should You Get Your Child Evaluated for an Earache?

Although ear infections may clear up on their own, your MD Now provider can provide treatment to manage pain and monitor the infection. When ear infection symptoms are present, antibiotics may be necessary. Chronic ear infections can cause longer term complications such as hearing loss.

Contact your provider immediately if your child:

  • Develops a temperature above 100.4ºF (a high fever signals the possibility of a more serious infection in infants and young children)
  • Has frequent ear infections (repeated bouts may lead to hearing loss or more serious infections)
  • Develops hearing problems
  • Complains of a stiff neck
  • Becomes extremely lethargic, responds poorly, or is inconsolable
  • You suspect an ear infection

Is It Important to Complete Your Ear Infection Treatment?

Ear infections may clear up without treatment. However, for those lasting longer than two or three days, your MD Now provider may prescribe antibiotics. As with all antibiotics, it is important to finish the prescribed dosage even when your symptoms have cleared up.

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can be used to treat symptoms like earache pain and fever, if needed.

The content provided on the MD Now website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for receiving medical care and treatment from a qualified healthcare provider. Never delay seeking advice, evaluation, and treatment from a medical professional because of what you’ve read on this site, since the information provided may not apply to you or your symptoms.