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Ear Infection And Neck Pain

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When An Ear Infection Is A Neck Problem

Ear pain, ear fullness, sound sensitivity and more caused by cervical instability

by Dr. Kilcup | Jun 8, 2013 | Articles, Sinus |

An Ear Infection Hurts!

If you, or especially one of your kids, have ever had an ear infection you know just how painful they can be. In this article I will explain how one type of ear infection is caused by a neck problem.

There are 3 places an ear infection can happen.

The first place is in the outer ear. The area from the ear drum to the outside of the ear canal is considered the outer ear. The outer ear infection is commonly called swimmers ear.

The second place an ear infection can happen is in the middle ear. The middle ear is the space behind the ear drum. The bones that transfer the vibrations from the ear drum to the auditory nerve are in the middle ear. There is a tube that connects the middle ear to the throat and allows air to pass through called the eustachian tube. When there is an ear infection in the middle ear it is very painful. The pain comes from the pressure that builds up inside the middle ear when the eustachian tube in the middle gets blocked and the infection creates puss. The middle ear area becomes like one big pimple and sometimes the ear drum pops just like a pimple.

The last place an ear infection can happen is in the inner ear The inner ear contains amazing sensors that help us with our balance. An inner ear infection is one cause of vertigo. I have a great article about vertigo here.

An ear infection can occur in the outer, middle or inner ear.

So there you go! I hope that made sense.

What Is An Ear Infection

While mostly thought of as a childhood ailment, a little less than 20 percent of ear infections occur in adults. Ear infections are more common in children because their Eustachian tubes are smaller and can therefore become blocked easier.

Ear infections can affect the inner, middle, and outer ear, and can be caused by inflammation, bacteria or viruses, or water that remains in your ear after swimming or bathing.

Symptoms of adult ear infections include ear pain, muffled hearing, a feeling of fullness in the ear, ear drainage, and nausea.

Infections Inside The Ear

Antibiotics are not usually offered because infections inside the ear often clear up on their own and antibiotics make little difference to symptoms, including pain.

Antibiotics might be prescribed if:

  • an ear infection does not start to get better after 3 days
  • you or your child has any fluid coming out of the ear
  • you or your child has an illness that means there’s a risk of complications, such as cystic fibrosis

They may also be prescribed if your child is less than 2 years old and has an infection in both ears.

If antibiotics are not prescribed, eardrops containing a painkiller and an anaesthetic might be prescribed.

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Why That Earache Isnt Going Away

Pain in the ears causes a lot of discomfort and will rob you of the much needed tranquility and quiet everyone wants after a long, hard day. An earache can also rob you of sleep, which is a critical component of good health.

A common way of treating pain in the ears is a dose of antibiotics to get rid of an ear infection. Most infections respond to normal drug therapy, whether it is a chest, tooth or throat infection. Relief from pain indicates that the infection has been dealt with.

But, what do you do when medication fails to alleviate the discomfort? The following post points to what could be the cause of your untreatable earache:

Do You Have an Ear Infection or Is It Really TMJ?

At least once a day, someone comes into our offices complaining of ear pain. Most of our patients think that they have an ear infection based on assumption but it may come as a surprise that most ear pain has nothing wrong with the ears.

The most common cause of ear pain in an adult is the temporo-mandibular joint or TMJ. The temporo-mandibular joint is located extremely close to the ear canal and middle ear. The muscles that surround the temporo-mandibular joint and the fascia and ligaments that hold the bones in place are intricately connected with the ear and the nerve that supports the ear. Read more at Berger Henry

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Signs Of Otitis Externa

Can Ear Infection Cause Neck Pain Headache

Otitis externa is an inflammation of the external section of the ear canal, which does not reach the eardrum. Most cases are caused by bacteria.

Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Itchiness of the ear

If you are concerned that you may have an outer ear infection, try using the Ada app to find out what the problem may be.

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What Are The Symptoms Of An Ear Infection

The hallmark signs of otitis media are pain and pressure in the ear and fluid drainage. These may be accompanied by a low-grade fever and hearing loss. Infants are often fussier than usual, and may cry inconsolably, refuse to eat and have trouble sleeping. They may also pull or tug on the ear. Symptoms may be milder in chronic ear infections. Should your child display any of these symptoms, bring them to the doctor the sooner an acute ear infection is treated, the lower the chances of it developing into a chronic condition.

Overall Tips From Research

You have to assess the neck. Dont confuse pain and posture. We know a lot about the bidirectional relationship of pain through the trigeminocervical nucleus but we are still learning about wether altered jaw occlusion causes postural problems and vice versa. Make sure you assess the neck in patients with jaw pain.

Consider posture as a part of the whole picture.When looking at the jaw during a forward head posture, the incisor point and both temporomandibular condyles move posteriorly. Lateral movement and vertical movement is not effected as much with forward head posture. Ohmure et al found the condyle can move on average 1.1mm posteriorly during a forward head posture. This is thought to add an additional posterior force to muscles and passive structures of the TMJ. Another study found that prolonged altered head posture due to a cervical dysfunction leads to asymmetric EMG activity in the jaw muscles . Therefore, head posture needs to be a consideration in TMJ patients.

The presence of limited cervical rotation and pain on palpation of the shoulder and neck muscles is not a differentiating feature between a cervical spine disorder and TMD. In fact, De Laat et al found in their study that TMD patients were highly likely to display limited cervical rotation C0-C4, while these limitations were only found in 20-46% of control subjects. What this means is that neck ROM has to be a consideration in TMD.

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How To Get Rid Of Throbbing Pain Behind Ear

  • Increase your Vitamin C intake as it helps in building your immune system and to fight infections off better. Include vitamin C-rich foods like oranges and other citrus fruits in your diet.
  • You can use some oils like mustard and olive oil that help with soothing the pain and to soften the wax, but be careful when using these oils as ear drops.
  • A warm pack of water placed over your ear could give you some much needed relief.
  • Ginger and garlic juice are also known to be good pain relievers.
  • If you are unsure of the safety of home remedies consult your doctor who will recommend what is suitable for your ear.

More references

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Ear Infection Symptoms Treatment

How Can Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care Help Ear Pain?

Middle ear infection is a bacterial or viral infection that may cause earache, temporary hearing loss, and fluid discharge.

Middle ear infections occur mainly in early childhood, although older children and adults also get these kinds of infection. It is estimated that one in four children will develop an acute ear infection before they turn 5 years of age. Children should always be taken to a doctor if they have earache.

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Which Specialties Of Doctors Treat Earaches And Ear Pain

Earaches and ear pain are very common symptoms, and may be evaluated and cared for by most primary care providers, including family practice specialists, pediatrician, and internal medicine specialists. Urgent care and emergency medicine doctors also evaluate ear pain. Otolaryngologists are able to care for ear issues and are able to perform surgery on all parts of the ear and face.

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What Causes A Middle

The middle ear connects to the throat by a canal called the eustachiantube. This tube helps even out the pressure between the outer ear and theinner ear. A cold or allergy can irritate the tube or cause the area aroundit to swell. This can keep fluid from draining from the middle ear. Thefluid builds up behind the eardrum. Bacteria and viruses can grow in thisfluid. The bacteria and viruses cause the middle-ear infection.

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Cold Or Warm Compress

You can use a cold compress or a heating pad to help get relief from any type of pain behind the ear or neck pain.

For example, doctors on the website Drugs.com say that a cold or warm compress may help to get rid of pain from an ear infection. You could try alternating between both to help get rid of mastoid bone pain due to an earache.16

How to use heat for ear and neck pain:

  • Dip a clean washcloth in hot water and wring out the excess.
  • Press on the painful area behind your ear or on your neck for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Dip in warm water as needed to keep the washcloth warm.
  • Use 3 or 4 times a day to help reduce pain in your ear or neck.
  • How to use ice for pain behind ear and neck:

  • Put some crushed ice in a plastic sealable bag and cover with a towel.
  • Place the cold compress on your sore ear or sore neck to help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Apply for 15 minutes at a time.
  • Use 3 or 4 times a day to help relieve discomfort from behind your ear and neck.
  • After 2 or 3 days when any swelling has gone down, you should switch to a heating pad.
  • Ear Ache Headache Pain Or Discomfort And Stiff Neck

    Ear Pain and Ear Infections Symptoms and Treatment

    Last Editorial Review: 6/15/2020

    A bad ear infection can cause pain as well as swollen glands in your neck. This may cause your neck to feel stiff. If you have a stiff neck and a bad headache or fever, it could be something much more serious like meningitis.

    While the list below can be considered as a guide to educate yourself about these conditions, this is not a substitute for a diagnosis from a health care provider. There are many other medical conditions that also can be associated with your symptoms and signs. Here are a number of those from MedicineNet:

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    Rheumatoid Or Psoriatic Arthritis

    These forms of arthritis occur because your immune system attacks healthy joints. Both rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are identified as autoimmune conditions.

    You may experience joint pain throughout your body at different times, including in your TMJ, and certain triggers may cause the pain to flare up.

    Earaches And Chiropractic Intervention

    A collection of four cases studies highlighted the benefits of chiropractic for patients dealing with ear pain. In three of the four cases, an upper cervical misalignment was specifically noted as a contributing factor. In all four cases, chiropractic care was able to provide help for the patients. But directly affecting the ears is not the only way upper cervical chiropractic may be able to help.

    The immune system relies on the central nervous system to determine when to move into action. Thus, a properly functioning CNS is vital to a strong immune system. Since many cases of ear problems go back to bacterial or viral infections, the immune system plays a key role in staving off earaches. Here are three ways that upper cervical chiropractic can benefit the central nervous system:

    • Blood flow The cervical spine facilitates blood flow via the vertebral foramen, tiny loops of bone that provide safe passage for the vertebral arteries. Relieving a subluxation is vital to proper flow of blood to the head.
    • Brainstem function The brainstem controls many of the bodys subconscious functions like breathing. The atlas surrounds and protects the brainstem. A misalignment can place pressure on the brainstem and inhibit proper function.
    • Intracranial pressure An upper cervical misalignment can lead to intracranial pressure by inhibiting the proper drainage of cerebrospinal fluid. Relieving the subluxation can help restore proper flow and reduce the pressure.

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    Pay Careful Attention To How You Sleep

    This is another thing Ive had to learn to manage properly.

    Most TMJ issues happen while were asleep.

    Its one thing to minimize stress throughout the day but when were asleep, our mind still races and we clench without realizing it.

    Then you wake up with ear pain and other problems, and it may not be obvious that your TMJ is at fault.

    Two things:

  • Get a proper mouth guard from your dentist or TMJ specialist .
  • Invest in high quality bedding.
  • This means getting a really good pillow and putting effort into your sleep comfort.

    Make sure that whatever you do before you go to sleep, its relaxing.

    No non-fiction books. No politics. No stressful news or conversations that raise your anxiety.

    Just something totally calming.

    You want your brain to switch off as much as possible before you hit your pillow.

    Signs That You Have An Ear Infection

    Suffering from Ear Blockage ,Ear Pain since last 3 month – Got relief after Procedure

    Ear infections are one of the most uncomfortable common illnesses. They frequently appear in children, but they can occur in adults, too, especially if you wear hearing aids. Here are fifteen signs that you have an ear infection.

    1. Pain in the ear

    One of the first things most people notice is a pain in the ear. Earache can be dull and throbbing or sharp and stabbing. Some people experience ear infection pain as a burning sensation. Ear infection pain doesnt usually last longer than three days.

    2. Headaches

    Some ear infections can cause headaches. Blockages in the ear, such as from infection, could account for your headache. If an object or impacted wax is blocking your ear, though, this could be the problem instead.

    3. Nausea and vomiting

    Ear infections are often accompanied by nausea , loss of appetite, and vomiting. If you are vomiting, try to stay hydrated by taking small sips of water. Call your doctor if the vomiting doesnt stop.

    4. Dizziness

    The ears are the bodys center of balance. Some types of ear infections affect your balance and cause dizziness and vertigo. It may feel like things are moving or spinning. Be extra careful when youre standing, walking, or driving.

    5. Itchiness

    Itching is one of the many signs of an ear infection. It can be in the ear canal itself, or on the lobe or outer ear. Its always best to refrain from scratching where possible, as you dont want to spread the infection or irritate your ear more.

    6. Scaly skin in the ear

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    Tennis Ball For Relieving Neck And Ear Pain

    You can also relieve headaches that cause neck pain and pain behind your ear by using a couple of tennis balls. The effect of massaging the cervical spine with tennis balls helps to release tension at the back of your neck and treat a pounding headache.

    This is what you should do:

  • Take a clean sock and put 2 tennis balls in it. Secure tightly.
  • You need to lie on your back with the top of your neck resting between the 2 tennis balls in the sock.
  • In a gentle motion, rock your head from side to side to help release tension.
  • Repeat step 3, but this time, move your head back and forth.
  • Repeat step 3 and 4 for a few minutes to help relax your neck muscles and ease pain at the back of your ear.
  • Ear Ache And Stiff Neck

    Last Editorial Review: 6/15/2020

    Earache and stiff neck could be temporomandibular joint dysfunction, ear infection , neck muscle tightness, cervical radiculopathy , or Eustachian tube dysfunction. Cholestetoma, ear wax blockage, sinusitis, parotitis, oropharyngeal infections, and tongue cancers could be the culprit. Sometimes the pain is referred to the ear . Call your doctor.

    While the list below can be considered as a guide to educate yourself about these conditions, this is not a substitute for a diagnosis from a health care provider. There are many other medical conditions that also can be associated with your symptoms and signs. Here are a number of those from MedicineNet:

    Read Also: Can You Get Rid Of An Infection Without Antibiotics

    How Is Swimmers Ear Diagnosed

    Swimmers ear may be diagnosed with a complete medical history and physical exam. Your health care provider may use an otoscope, a lighted instrument that helps to examine the ear and to aid in the diagnosis of ear disorders. This will help your provider know if there is also an infection in the middle ear. Although this infection usually does not occur with swimmers ear, some people may have both types of infections.

    Your health care provider may also take a culture of the drainage from the ear to help determine proper treatment.

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