The ear is divided into three compartments, outer, middle and inner ear. The inner ear includes the bony labyrinth. Inside the labyrinth there are the cochlea which is in charge with hearing and the vestibular system which is in charge with balance. Inner ear pain may result as a consequence of numerous medical conditions. It pain may be temporary, persistent and in some cases it may reoccur. Inner ear pain needs to be reported to the doctor since some of the underlying causes can be rather serious.
Causes of Inner Ear Pain
Patients more frequently complain about discomfort in the inner ear rather than pain. The pain or discomfort may be additionally accompanied by several more symptoms among which dizziness is the leading one. If one is also complaining about dizziness, it points that only one inner ear is affected by pathological process.
Labyrinthitis is one of the possible causes of inner ear pain. It represents inflammation of the labyrinth and features with pain, recurrent dizziness, hearing loss and tinnitus.
Furthermore inner ear pain may originate from various non-infectious diseases such as autoimmune disease.
Trauma caused by elevated sound levels or even exposure to certain drugs and toxic substances eventually results in damage of the hair cells of the inner ear. This damage may lead to inner ear pain.
Infections can be another cause of inner ear pain. Infections are usually caused by viruses or bacteria and the treatment against these infective agents can be successful or the inner ear may not recover completely which can result in deafness, tinnitus and problems with balance.
Inner ear pain can be also caused by acoustic neuroma. This is a benign tumor and its presence apart from pain may lead to one sided hearing loss, balance disturbances and tinnitus. Headaches and facial weakness occur if the tumor has significantly grown.
Facial nerve tumors affect the facial nerve and may be benign and malign. They typically lead to facial paralysis and in later stages hearing and balance problems. In malignant form of the disease patients may complain about inner ear pain. Even the spread of other malignant tumors in the area around the inner ear may result in pain.
And finally, the petrous apex lesions can be another cause of inner ear pain. The petrous apex is the part of the temporal bone and is located in the inner most part of the ear. Infections, tumors and some other conditions which affect the petrous apex commonly lead to pain.