Earache and headache

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Headache and earache are often connected

While it is true that earaches and headaches can sometimes occur together, the explanation is not as simple as solely relying on anatomical connections. It's important to note that the relationship between earache and headache can be multifactorial and can vary depending on the underlying cause. While some causes of earache and headache may be related to the anatomical connections between the ears, nose, and throat, not all cases can be explained by this factor alone.

What causes pain in ear and head

The interconnectedness of the ears, nose, and throat means that sinusitis can lead to mucus build-up, resulting in headaches. Additionally, the mucus can spread to the middle ear, causing infection and further contributing to headaches or migraines. Seeking medical attention promptly is recommended if you experience ear discomfort or pain that radiates to the head.

Ear infection: mastoiditis

Mastoiditis is an inflammatory condition caused by an infection that affects the mastoid cells, located in the mastoid bone. It can manifest itself as acute or chronic inflammation. The primary symptoms of mastoiditis include severe, pulsating, and persistent ear pain, headaches, hearing loss and fever. In some cases, there may be ear discharge and swelling. Mastoiditis usually occurs as a result of inadequately treated or untreated otitis media. When experiencing symptoms, it is crucial to take immediate action to prevent potentially severe complications.

Occipital Neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia is characterised by a sharp, penetrating pain that originates at the back of the head and extends towards the ear area, sometimes reaching the eyebrow and the area behind the eye. This condition is extremely incapacitating and can persist for a few seconds to extended durations of several hours or even days.

TMJ disorder

Temporomandibular disorders are strongly associated with headaches and earaches. Common symptoms include a sensation of fullness in the ear, ear pain, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and, in some cases, hearing loss and itching. The proximity and intricate nerve connections between the head and neck structures contribute to the widespread pain experienced in these areas.


Some researches suggest a strong connection between tinnitus and headaches. Different studies indicate that individuals experiencing headaches, particularly migraines, are more prone to developing tinnitus, hearing loss, and sudden deafness. Furthermore, tinnitus can also be triggered by head or neck trauma. This condition manifests itself as an unpleasant ringing sensation in the ears, which can persist for a long period of time, causing significant discomfort.

Ear, head, throat

As previously mentioned, the throat and ears are closely connected organs, primarily due to their close physical proximity. Consequently, it is not uncommon for individuals to experience sore throat and earache simultaneously or exhibit similar symptoms. When a viral or bacterial infection affects the throat, it can lead to inflammation at the back of the throat, which may extend to the ears. This can occur due to the physical proximity of these structures and the sharing of certain anatomical features. Symptoms commonly associated with pharyngitis, also known as a sore throat, often include headaches, which can result from fever, another common symptom of this condition.

Is there a link between tinnitus and headache?

Find out more about the relationship between tinnitus and migraine.

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What causes head and ear pain on one side?

Headaches and earaches can frequently manifest on one side of the head. This can occur for a number of reasons, including colds and flus, exposure to loud noises, persistent motion, bright light, as well as stress and anxiety. For mild discomfort, self-medicating with home remedies can be helpful. However, if the pain is severe, it is recommended to seek medical attention.

What types of headache affect the right side?

Right-sided headaches can have various causes, including migraines, cervical issues, fatigue, or trigeminal neuralgia. They may be accompanied by symptoms like earaches, visual problems, and nausea. Good practices like adequate sleep, regular exercise, and improved posture can help alleviate them. Over-the-counter medications can be used as needed. While these headaches usually resolve quickly, prolonged cases should be examined by a healthcare professional.

Earache and headache right side

In some cases, individuals may experience headaches on the right side accompanied by ear pain. Possible causes include an ear infection (with pain radiating throughout the region, including the head), migraines, or a tension headache. The pain can manifest as sharp and persistent, with varying durations that alternate between intense peaks and milder moments of discomfort. Alternatively, it may manifest as a milder, long-lasting pain. To identify the underlying cause, it is best to consult an otolaryngologist

What types of headache affect the left side?

Headaches localised on the left side of the head can affect a significant number of individuals. There are various causes attributed to this, including migraines (with or without auras), trigeminal neuralgia, cluster headaches, infections, cervical issues, and fatigue. These headaches may be accompanied by additional symptoms such as nausea, visual disturbances, and earache. Generally, this condition is not a cause for major concern, as it typically lasts for a few hours. However, if the headaches persist for an extended duration, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to investigate the underlying cause. Avoiding alcohol, coffee, cold cuts, and cheese, increasing water intake, getting adequate rest, and minimising exposure to light and screens can help alleviate the pain associated with these headaches.

Earache and headache left side

Similar to the right side, there are cases when headaches occur exclusively on the left side along with accompanying ear pain. The causes include ear infections that can cause pain to radiate towards the head, migraines, and tension headaches. The pain can range from sharp to mild, with variations in duration and intensity depending on each individual. It is best to consult a doctor or ENT specialist to evaluate all the symptoms and identify the underlying cause.

Head and ear pain on both sides

As previously mentioned, headaches can be accompanied by pain in both ears. The pain can be intense and sharp, with intermittent periods of relief, or it may be milder but persist for an extended period of time.

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How to treat pain in ear and head

The treatments for alleviating headaches and earaches vary depending on the specific underlying cause. However, there are general measures that can often provide relief, such as:

  • Taking over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or paracetamol can help alleviate pain associated with conditions like otitis media.
  • Adjusting sleeping positions: using a pillow to elevate the head during sleep can help reduce pressure on the head and ears, thereby relieving painful symptoms.
  • Performing neck exercises: engaging in neck rotation exercises can help alleviate pressure in the ear canal and reduce head pain.

Home and alternative remedies

When experiencing headaches and earaches, some home remedies can provide relief. These include resting, drinking lukewarm beverages to stay hydrated, and applying essential oils like eucalyptus and peppermint to the temples. These self-medication practices can help alleviate pain, but it is crucial to remember that they should not substitute medical consultation, especially if symptoms worsen. 

When to see a doctor

If symptoms persist or worsen even after a brief period of rest or home remedies, it is crucial to seek guidance from a healthcare professional. Consulting your general practitioner or a specialist is important to keep the symptoms or the condition from worsening. They will have the necessary expertise to take appropriate and timely action in addressing the underlying cause, providing relief for both headaches and earaches.
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