Excruciating ear pain

I sleep on my right side, and nearly every night I’m awakened by pretty severe pain in my right ear. I turn over and about 5 minutes later it doesn’t hurt nearly as much…just a dull ache. I’ve looked at various health related sites and it almost seems like it’s Otitis Media (basically an ear infection) but I don’t have a fever or any other symptoms besides the earache. My right ear hurts in the daytime (the dull ache) but what’s up with the torture at night?

I’m calling an ear/nose/throat doctor tomorrow, but odds are it’s going to take a while to get an appointment and I’m flying on Friday…anything I can do until I get to the doctor?

If it’s an infection, you really don’t need an ear nose and throat doctor to diagnose it, you need a GP or an internist–somebody to write a prescription for antibiotics. Only if htey recomend one, or if it dosen’t go away, or if it reoccurs do you need to see a specialist. You should be able to get in to see a GP pretty qickly when you tell them you have an ear infection. You do not want to fly with it.

Ear infections can linger for a long time. I woke up with a horrible, horrible one about three weeks ago --out of nowhere I was in excruciating pain and I had blood and pus and lymph (mostly lymph) just flowing out of my ear. I went to the clinic (it was a Sunday morning) and got antibiotics. I was very good about taking them, but even after they were all gone my ear stayed clogged and it hurt when I sneezed (air pushed up thorugh my tube). I went to the doctor, Thursday,and sure enough, the infection was still festering in there. This time I have fourteen days of antibiotics, which will hopefully clear it up completely.

Anyway, i would make an appointment with your normal doctor ASAP and don’t wait for the pus/blood/gunk to start flowing out of your ear. It was one of the most excruciating things in my life.

It could be as simple as ear wax buildup. Excessive earwax could dry out in the ear and cause pressure and pain. The pain would be worse if pressure was put on the ear. You should still see a doctor but it might just take an irrigation of the ear to clear it out.

In the meanwhile, you may want to swab some isopropyl alcohol in the right ear. If it is otitis media and if it is mild, this will probably help. And if its a wax buildup, it may also help to loosen the wax. I get mild otitis media occasionally due to swimming, and the alcohol helps. There is a special thingy you can buy called “Swimmers Ear” also.

I believe dripping olive oil in your ear is supposed to be very good for removing wax.

originally posted by columbusCL

If you have an ear or sinus infection, by lying on your right side gravity might be pulling congestion (snot, basically) into your middle ear on that side. This causes pain. When you turn over, gravity makes it run the other way, out of the inner ear. IF that’s what you have - I am not a doctor, and even if was, you can’t really diagnose that over the internet.

Oh, gawd! don’t fly with an ear problem like that - the pain will be excruiciating and I speak from bitter experience. You really, really, really do NOT want to do that.

Don’t wait to see an ENT - go to a regular doc. He or she can quickly determine if you have fluid (snot, basically) in your inner ear. If that is the case, they can start you on antibiotics (if appropriate) and give you a powerhouse decongestant. If you do that MONDAY then by Friday there is a reasonable chance of you being able to fly without screaming agony.

Please, please do this - you can potentially save yourself a great deal of pain.

I usually appreciate your home remedy/common sense approach to health care. Not this time, though. Here’s the problem: the OP says he has ear pain. Basically, that’s all we know. Aside from pain, he/she has no other symptoms to guide treatment. How would an MD treat this? They’d establish a diagnosis and then treat what they found.

You can’t just go swabbing isopropanol into someone’s ear willy-nilly. Suppose he has a punctured ear drum. What does isopropanol do in the middle ear. I don’t know and wouldn’t want to find out. In addition, while isopropanol works to dry excess water from the ear canal, it is not appropriate treatment for “mild otitis media.”

columbusCL, the degree of pain you’re in is alarming. You don’t want online medical advice or a delay in diagnosis/treatment at this time. If it will take days to see a specialist, then go to a walk-in clinic (any public hospital) or an emergency room at the soonest convenience.

I have the same thing…but its not IN my ear, its my ear itself. Is your problem your ear, or IN your ear?

I’m not sleeping with it folded under or in some kind of weird position, but I will wake in the morning in intense pain. And it only happens with the right ear.

Is it that my head is too heavy, or what?

Ear problems need docs. Once I returned home from a flight when I was congested & had severe ear pain. The doc said he could see blood on the other side of the membrane & decongestants were prescribed. He said if the pain didn’t subside he’d have to puncture. :eek: Fortunately that was never the case.

Another time I incurred an ear infection from a swimming pool.

Then there was the ear infection via sinus infection.

See what the doc says about flying.

As for the ear itself pain, maybe it has something to do with a nerve? Again, see a doc.

Or maybe you just need an Ear Candle.

Nobody on this message board can accurately diagnose your problem. You need to see a doctor. In the meantime, I would definitely put the kibosh on your flight plans. Speaking from experience, you do NOT want to fly if there is the slightest thing wrong with your ears. Excruciating pain sucks. Excruciating pain 30,000 feet up with no doctor until you land in four hours (or whenever) sucks even worse.

No…you don’t.

Unca Cecil already explained why.

Being no stranger to ear issues myself, I have found that my ear infections clear up by themselves. If they don’t, I poke around to see if I can localize it & if not, I trot over to Docs on Duty. aka docs in a box.

I never heard (pardon the pun) of someone with a weird folding ear thing at night though.

I’m going to an Urgent Care Center as soon as I get off work today. The pain is not as bad, but then it’s been variable all along. I really appreciate all the advice. I did actually try the ear wax removal drops before I posted the original question and they didn’t help much but didn’t seem to hurt anything either.

IANAD, but based on my own experience, I think what you have is almost certainly Temporo-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD). I had exactly the same symptoms as you describe, intermittently for several years. I went to a GP, an ENT specialist, and even had a dentist X-ray my wisdom teeth to see if it could be caused by an abscess. None of them found anything. Finally I read a magazine article about TMJD, and it mentioned that this was one of the problems it could cause. I went back to the dentist and told him that was what I had, and he agreed. He made me a dental appliance to wear at night, and that pretty much solved the problem. After several months I quit using the appliance, and have had only very infrequent reoccurences.

Until I pointed them to the diagnosis, none of the professionals I went to suggested that as a possible cause. That was about 40 years ago, so maybe they have gotten better in that time, but I suggest that you should be sure to mention it to them. If that is the problem, you would want to go to a dentist or oral surgeon to treat it. Since I am nearly positive that is what it is, my suggestion would be to go there first. Antibiotics will not do any good unless there is an infection, and overdosing with antibiotics is not a good idea.

As best as I can figure out, what happens is that when the side of your face is down, it pushes your jaw out of alignment (maybe even out of joint), and that causes pain in the joint, which is just under your ear, and you feel the pain in your ear canal. When it was hurting, my ear was very sensitive to touch. If I stuck my finger in the ear, it hurt even more, but after I was up for a few minutes, the pain went away. I expected to look at the ear and see that it was all red, but there was no difference in its appearance at all.

Good luck and don’t forget to come back and let us know how it went!

Okay…no ear infection, but I do have a sinus infection and fluid in my ears (I don’t remember the doctor-speak for that). So I was given an antibiotic and a decongestant.

It’s interesting that Richard mentioned TMJD. I was diagnosed with that about 6 months ago. I got a mouthpiece but I could hardly stand it and quit wearing it about 4 months ago. Looks like it wouldn’t hurt to give it another shot.

Thanks for all the posts…you did convince me to go to the doctor, and soon…I probably would have put it off if left to my own devices.