What Causes Burning Ears?

There are dozens of causes of a burning ear sensation.
There are dozens of causes of a burning ear sensation. (Image: ear image by Connfetti from Fotolia.com)

A burning sensation of the ears can signify larger medical problems, such as diabetes or cranial nerve trauma. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms so that he can make a proper diagnosis. Based on given symptoms, your doctor may require testing.


Ear burning is defined as a burning sensation felt on the ear(s). Along with the burning sensation, you may also feel a tingling or a pins and needles type of sensation.


WrongDiagnosis.com lists the following medical conditions that can possibly cause ear burning sensations: diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, sunburn, chemical burn, heat burn, cranial nerve trauma, stroke, peripheral artery disease and ear injury.

Ear Injury

Any type of injury to the ear can cause a burning sensation. For example, direct trauma to the ear from an open hand striking it or even a car accident will cause a burning sensation and pain.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy, damage to the peripheral nerces, is one of the conditions that can cause ear burning. According to Wrong Diagnosis, the “peripheral nerves spread out from the brain and spinal cord, and peripheral neuropathy results in unusual or abnormal sensations of the extremities, especially the feet.” It is a common condition that results from metabolic disorders, infections, malignancies, inflammation, vitamin deficiencies, toxins or inherited conditions. The most common causes of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. Other causes include burning ears (which could be a sign of nerve damage), alcoholism, vasculitis, and deficiencies of Vitamins B and E.

Diagnosing peripheral neuropathy includes taking a complete family history, a complete physical exam, as well as a neurological exam, which includes testing of the reflexes, sensation, movement, balance, coordination, vision and hearing. According to Wrong Diagnosis, doctors will perform tests to diagnose peripheral neuropathy, including an EMG (electromyography) and a nerve conduction test.


A stroke is another possible cause of ear burning sensation. It occus when the brain does not get enough oxygen to function properly. According to Wrong Diagnosis, there are two types of strokes--an ischemic CVA and a hemorrhagic CVA. An ischemic CVA is when a brain artery is blocked, while a hemorrhagic CVA occurs when an artery ruptures or leaks. Symptoms of a stroke include weakness, dizziness or headache. These symptoms, though, can be a warning sign for a small stroke, called a transient ischemic attack. Additional symptoms include burning ears, numbness; paralysis of the face, leg or arm; loss of consciousness; facial drooping; slurred speech; aphasia (difficulty speaking); confusion; and blurred vision. Burning ears is a symptom because of what happens to the brain during a stroke.

There are many causes of a stroke, including hypertension, coronary angiography, vasculitis, eclampsia, mitral valve prolapse (a common heart condition), Haemophilia Type A, heart attack and atherosclerosis.

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