Dizziness & Ear Pain

(Image: "Head case" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: bobster855 (Bob Bobster) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Dizziness accompanied by ear pain can stem from a number of conditions and most are not very serious or permanent. The causes of dizziness and earn pain include infections of the middle ear and inner ear, migraine headaches and neurological disorders.

Middle Ear Infections

The most common cause of ear pain and dizziness is otitis media, or an infection of the middle ear. These ear infections are most common in young children and affect 75 percent of children by the age of 3, but they can also affect adults. These infections can be painful and make you feel lightheaded or dizzy and often require treatment with antibiotics.

Swimmer's Ear

As the name implies, swimmer's ear affects people who spend a lot of time in the ocean or a swimming pool. The protective layer in the ear canal works best when it's dry. When it's exposed to excess moisture, it's more prone to bacterial infections that can penetrate the thin layer protecting the ear canal. Most cases clear up on their own but more serious cases may require antibiotics.

Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

Paroxysmal positional vertigo is a form of vertigo brought on by changes in the position of the head. The symptoms include dizziness, pain, blurred version and nausea or vomiting. This condition occurs most often in people who are over the age of 60 and is caused by movement or damage to the otolith organs in the inner ear. These loop-shaped structures monitor the rotation of your head and any changes to their structure or position can lead to this form of vertigo.

Meniere's Disease

Meniere's is a disease caused by excess buildup of fluid in the inner ear. Symptoms included sudden bouts of dizziness that range in length from a few minutes to an hour, accompanied by ringing in the ears, loss of hearing or muffled hearing, headache and a feeling of fullness in the ears. There is no known cause for Meniere's disease and it usually disappears on its own.


In addition to severe pain, migraines can also cause dizziness and vertigo. Migraine-related vertigo can last from a few minutes to several days and is often triggered by a secondary condition such as motion sickness. Treatment usually involves pain medication and rest.

Inner Ear Inflammation

Inflammation of the inner ear, also known as vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis, can cause sudden, intense dizziness along with inner ear pain, nausea and imbalance. The cause of this condition is not known but is most likely the result of a viral infection of the inner ear that disrupts its balancing mechanism. The condition usually lasts for just a few days and typically clears up on its own.

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