With children, pain in the ears are often caused by inflammation of the middle ear, while it is often a sign of inflammation of the ear canal (otitis) or impacted ear wax with adults.
Inflammation of the middle ear is a very common illness with children in the age from 6 months to 3 years. The illness especially occurs as a complication to common cold. A connection between the nose and the middle ear functions as a valve to regulate the pressure in the middle ear. In the case of common cold, influenza or inflammation of nose and throat, mucous membranes swell up closing the valve. This can cause inflammation of the middle ear.
In lighter cases, there is only the sensation of stuffiness and light pain in the ear. In severe cases, the pains are significant and the child often cries inconsolably. In the most severe cases, there is high fever. Typically, the pain are worst during the night when the child lies down with the head low.
With some children, the eardrum bursts and pus – possibly mixed with blood – leaks from the ear canal. When the ear canal leaks from the ear the child has healed itself. With almost all children the hole closes by itself in the course of a few days without any damage to the hearing.
Adults can have inflammation of the middle ear but pain in the ears with adults is often sign of otitis. In the case of otitis, it may be itchy and a little fluid may leak from the ear. The pain is worsened when you pull the ear up or down. Another cause of pain in the ear with adults can be impacted earwax. In this case, the hearing is reduced.