COVID-19 Symptom: Ear Pain
Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
- Ear pain is a rare symptom of COVID-19
- There can be several other possible causes of ear pain besides COVID-19, so it’s important to test
- While ear pain often subsides when the infection clears, ear pain can also persist as a symptom of long-COVID
- Most ear pain associatiated with COVID will resolve on its own
Ear pain usually doesn't occur as a symptom of COVID-19, although there are some cases where an infection with the coronavirus can cause it. In these cases, the ear pain usually goes together with other symptoms of COVID-19. It’s essential to be well aware of the other symptoms of COVID-19 and the possible causes of an earache to understand where your ear pain is coming from.
Is ear pain a sign of COVID?
Ear pain isn’t listed as one of the common signs of COVID, according to the NHS. However, a considerable number of people have experienced ear pain after COVID, which is why it's included in the list of possible symptoms of long-COVID. Long-COVID is a condition where the symptoms of the coronavirus persist long after the infection has cleared. 1 2
Even though ear pain isn’t commonly reported as a COVID-19 symptom, some studies did find a correlation between earache and covid. Research suggests that some cells in the inner ear have ACE-2 receptors. The coronavirus may enter these cells through the ACE2 receptors, where it can go on to cause damage and inflammation. Inflammation of these cells could lead to various ear problems, such as dizziness, hearing loss, and a ringing or buzzing noise in the ears called tinnitus. 3 4
Studies have suggested that these ACE2 receptors may also be present in the skin of the ear, which would make these cells susceptible to the virus as well. This way, you could experience otalgia, also known as ear pain, during a COVID infection. In some cases, otalgia may be felt as sharp ear pain, although the intensity of this symptom may vary from person to person. 3 4
How long does COVID ear pain last?
If you do experience earache due to COVID, this pain can start between the 5th to 8th day of the infection. The pain often goes away once the infection has cleared, but some people experience persistent ear pain after COVID. If your ear pain persists after a COVID infection, it’s recommended to consult with your doctor for monitoring and treatment. 3
Is COVID the cause of my ear pain?
If you're experiencing inner ear pain and you think it might be COVID, then you should look at the other symptoms you're experiencing. If these include any of the symptoms of a COVID-19 infection, getting tested is recommended. For example, if you're experiencing a fever, a sore throat, and ear pain on one side, then you might have COVID.
If you do not have any other symptoms related to the coronavirus, then the cause of your ear pain is probably something else, such as: 5
- An ear infection
- An earwax build-up
- A perforated eardrum
- A sore throat
- An infection of the tonsils
- An infection with a virus such as the flu or the common cold
- A dental abscess or teething with children.
How can you treat earache with a COVID infection?
Besides the possible treatment for your COVID infection itself, there’s no necessary additional treatment for earaches, as your pain should go away on its own after a few days. You can, however, take a painkiller such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, as the earache might be quite painful. If your earache persists after your COVID infection, you should consult your doctor for further advice.
Earaches aren’t a common symptom of a COVID infection. However, some studies suggest that ear pain can be a sign of an infection with the coronavirus. The best way to distinguish the cause of your ear pain is to check your other symptoms. You should get tested if you have other symptoms that may point to a COVID infection. If you do not experience other symptoms, your ear pain is probably due to another cause, and your doctor could help you with further recommendations.
Q: Does COVID cause ear pain?
A: COVID usually doesn’t cause ear pain, although some studies suggest that there might be a connection between ear pain and the coronavirus.
Q: Is ear pain a COVID symptom?
A: Ear pain isn’t a commonly reported symptom of COVID, although it can appear in a limited amount of cases and can also persist as a symptom of long-COVID.
Q: Can COVID cause pain behind the ear and down the neck?
A: In some cases, excessive breathing through the mouth due to breathing difficulties can cause the neck muscles to get tense.
Q: Why do I have ear and jaw pain with COVID?
A: Ear pain can occur in some cases of COVID, although it’s not frequently reported. Jaw pain often occurs as a symptom of long-COVID, as stress and mouth breathing cause the jaw muscles to get tense.
Q: How can I ease ear pain from COVID?
A: A couple of simple ways to treat ear pain from COVID include taking pain medications and applying a warm compress.
Q: Can the coronavirus disease cause hearing problems?
A: There have been some reports of COVID-19 causing hearing problems, such as hearing loss, tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.
Q: Can COVID cause hearing loss in one ear?
A: Hearing loss associated with COVID-19 can occur in one ear or both, although it’s not a common symptom of the virus.