If you’ve dealt with any ailment of the ear in the past, you know how frustrating and painful it can be to live with one. That’s why in this article we’re specifically addressing tingling in the ear, a sensation that, while being just plain difficult to tolerate, can also be a sign of an underlying health issue that’s worth getting checked out. Learning more about this symptom will equip you to take the next steps in solving your eardrum conundrum!

what to do if you have a ringing or ticklish ear sensation

What Does Tingling in the Ear Mean?

The sensation of “tingling in the ear” is probably more commonly known as “pins and needles”. Known by the proper name of “Paresthesia,” having pins and needles in the ear can be a sign of something more serious, especially when this tingling sensation is accompanied by or proceeds ear numbness. Both of these symptoms could be signs of an underlying ear syndrome in need of diagnosis.

It is also important to note that this symptom differs from other common symptoms addressed by an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) professional, such as a tickle or ringing in the ears, or moderate hearing loss.

what causes tingling sensation in your ears

What Causes Tingling in the Ear?

Paresthesia can be caused by numerous medical conditions in need of advice, diagnosis, or treatment. A few of these conditions include: 

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

This phrase describes an issue with the Eustachian Tube, a small cavity in the body that connects the throat to the inner ear. The Eustachian Tube’s function is to keep air pressure and fluid from filling the ear. When this cavity becomes plugged as a result of sinus infections, colds, or allergies, patients may experience the tingling sensation in question.

Swimmer’s Ear

This is a condition that almost everyone has experienced to some degree. Swimmer’s ear has to do with water being trapped in your ear. When that water stays trapped for an extended period of time, bacteria or fungal organisms can begin to grow, creating an infection of the external ear canal. This can result in a variety of symptoms, including hearing loss, pain, redness, and tingling. 

Diabetes Mellitus 

When someone living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes isn’t managing their condition effectively, this can sometimes result in peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy refers to an injury to the nerves on the peripheral of your nervous system and often affects the extremities of the body, including the fingers, toes, face, and ears. This kind of nerve damage can result in tingling and numbness in the affected areas. 

Middle Ear Infection

An infection of the middle ear most commonly occurs in children but can sometimes be experienced by adults as well. An ear infection can be caused by bacteria or a virus in the middle ear that often stems from respiratory illnesses that cause congestion and swelling of the ear, nose, and throat. In adults, this can cause ear pain, fluid drainage, trouble hearing, and tingling. 

Earwax Blockage & Other Obstructions 

When earwax, or cerumen, builds up in the external ear canal, it can cause hearing loss, ringing in the ear, pain, itching, tickling, and tingling. Luckily, keeping your earwax buildup under control is relatively easy and will not require you any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

In rare cases, other items or substances can cause blockages in the ear. Small items like candy, rocks, or toys can get stuck in children’s ears, and sometimes creatures like cockroaches, moths, beetles, or spiders can make their way into the ear canal of both adults and children. When this happens, a blockage can occur that causes tingling and other blockage symptoms.

treatments for ear pain or discomfort


Most of the time treatment of the issues listed above is relatively simple once you’re examined by an ENT specialist. In the case of an infection, your doctor will usually prescribe you a regimen of antibiotics to combat the issue. 

In the case that you are dealing with an obstruction of some kind, your doctor will take the necessary steps to remove the obstruction from your year to fix the blockage. This often includes either a small, curved instrument called a “curet,” but can also involve suction or a water pick for flushing out unwanted material.

symptoms from ear pain and what it could lead to

Other Ear Conditions

Some additional common ear conditions that patients may experience include but are not limited to the following: 


Tinnitus is a condition where you experience ringing or other noises in your ears that isn’t caused by external stimuli. This is a common problem, most frequently experienced by older adults. The sounds in the ear caused by Tinnitus can include, ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, hissing, or humming. Tinnitus can sometimes be a non-invasive condition; however, you should consult with your doctor if you experience dizziness or a loss of hearing. If your Tinnitus is causing you anxiety or depression, please seek professional help for the issue. 

Meniere’s Disease

This disease is a disorder of the ear, usually inner, and can result in vertigo and hearing loss. Most commonly, this condition only affects a single ear. While it is a chronic condition, symptoms can be managed with the right treatments, resulting in a relatively positive prognosis. 


The vestibular nerves in your inner ear play a large role in your ability to balance. Inflammation can cause a condition called Labyrinthitis. This condition can cause vertigo, nausea, and loss of hearing, but will usually resolve in one to three weeks with the proper medical treatment.

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Village Emergency Center Can Help!

If you or a loved one are experiencing tingling in the ear and are concerned that it is a sign of an underlying health issue, make an appointment with your doctor today. Visiting a certified ENT, or a licensed medical provider you trust, can help you get the treatment you need so you can get back to living life without any ear-related discomfort.