The anatomy of our middle ear changes as we get older, so adults get less susceptible to earaches following a cold than small children are. It’s a good thing, too, because for grown-ups to be walking around pulling at our ears and crying our eyes out would be a pathetic sight indeed. When the middle ear does get infected (a condition called otitis media), it’s definitely painful. But also uncomfortable in its own special way is the maddening itch of swimmer’s ear (otitis externa). Disconcerting, too, is the clogged and muffled hearing of excessive earwax, or the blockage and ringing sensation following scuba diving or air travel. You’ll need to see a doctor if any of these lasts for more than two or three days.