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Nurse Milli, RN
Nurse Milli, RN, Nurse (RN)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 4139
Experience:  20 years experience in many areas of Nursing. Both Hospital and Private Practice experience.
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Sharp pain behind ear

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I am having a sharp stabbing pain behind my left ear. It comes and goes at erratic intervals. It's been going on since around three o'clock today and is still present now. The pain is really sharp and causes me to wince really badly, it comes on and flares up and then goes away. Sometimes it's seconds in between, sometime its minutes. It mostly is behind the ear, but has flared up in the bottom corner of my jaw, and felt like it flared up in my ear canal too. Sometimes it has started behind the ear and then shot down to my jaw. The pain is pretty intense, like I said it's enough to make my wince hard and jerk to the left , but not enough to make me cry out. I'm just wondering if this is something to be concerned about enough to go to an emergency room, or if it should be fine. I have had this before, sometimes it's around for a couple of hours sometimes on and off for a few days, and it's usually a month or two between episodes. Sorry if i'm rambling, I just wanted to present everythin


The location of your pain is indicitive of a few things. Of course, ear infections can cause this type of pain...pain that feels like it is in the ear canal, behind the ear, jaw, etc. An outer ear infection (swimmer's ear) is a likely cause (especially pain in the ear canal itself). You don't actually have to be a swimmer to have swimmer's ear. Any moisture left in the ear can cause this (such as a shower or bath). Also, you didn't mention if you have had your wisdom teeth removed or not, but this can cause jaw pain and pain behind the ear that will feel as though it is radiating. There is also a condition called Mastoiditis. This is an infection of the bone behind the ear, or from an enlarged lymph node. Mastoiditis is a bacterial infection of the mastoid air cells (small, air-filled cavities located in the mastoid process, which is the bulge in the skull behind the ear). This is something you will definitely need to see your Dr about.

Pain will be your guide. Most likely, you have an infection of some sort, but there is just no way for me to tell in a forum such as this with your symptoms (unfortunately, I know). Going to the ER will surely bring you relief because they will treat you and give you something for pain, but I do not know how ready you are to do this. If nothing else, you can always take some Advil/Motrin tonight and see your Dr in the morning for treatment. Either way, I hope you feel better soon. You have had this all day and I'm sure you are ready to feel better.

Hope this helps....reply back if needed.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Now the pain is mostly at the corner of my jaw directly below my left ear. It's also not so much behind the ear on my skull as much as directly behind the ear now. it is still occasionaly flaring up an inch or two behind my ear on the skull, but is mostly on the jaw or around the ear, In the last 30 minutes it has flared up at least 25- 30 times and is now 90% in the areas described above. Is this type of sharp flaring pain normally associated with an ear infection. What is the probability of this being some more serious condition, my wife always fears the worse like a nerve problem or aneurysm thing or such, I'm starting to lean more towards ear infection now. As i always seem to have water in my ears "released" about an hour after showering despite using cotton swabs, almost like a pressure bubble breaks and allows water out. My wisdom teeth have been removed.

Thanks for the reply....Still sounds indicative of an ear infection. I think since your pain is increasing this much, I would go ahead and go to the ER - if for nothing else, to get some pain relief started so that you can rest. So yes, I am still thinking an ear infection.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Last one I swear, the ear is not painful to the touch and does not have any drainage at all like normal ear infections. Can ear infections present this pain without the drainage or being painful to the touch? As, of now I'm gonna try extra strength Tylenol and if it doesn't help I'll go to the E.R. or an urgent care clinic. With it being more towards the jaw and below and imediately behind the ear now, it is very likely it's not some crazy brain thing, right? and if anything could probably wait until tommorow when I can see my family doctor right?

No problem, yes, ear infections can start out this way. You don't have to have any discharge or drainage with an ear infection. I don't see where this would be something that couldn't wait until tomorrow (unless of course your pain level is not tolerable).

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