The sensation of pressure in the ear is usually caused by a negative pressure in the middle ear. This can be a persistent problem after a cold, a seasonal allergy, scuba diving or airplane flight. These activities are examples of when the eustachian tube has become swollen or stressed and is not allowing the air pressure of the middle ear to equilibrate with the surrounding air pressure.
Ear pain can vary from a dull ache to intense or stabbing pain, but it is usually more uncomfortable than a pressure sensation.
Common sources from the ear
Common sources of pain distant from the ear ("referred" pain)
Uncommon Causes of referred pain
Chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis
Chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis is an uncommon small, painful, inflammatory nodule attached to the cartilage of the outer ear. The skin lesion is raised, can be pale or slightly reddish and is often covered by scale or a small ulcer. This disorder can grow to 2 - 4mm in diameter and can stay unchanged for years. It occurs commonly after age 40 and two thirds are men. The cause of this disorder is unknown, but may be related to prolonged pressure on the external ear, increased sun-exposure, or frostbite. Often the ear that forms the lesion is the side that the patient usually sleeps on and its tenderness makes it difficult to sleep. This inflammatory lesion involves the cartilage as well as the skin.