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Pain in top of ear: Chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis: Symptoms and treatment


Chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis: Symptoms and treatment

Chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis is an inflammatory skin condition that affects the ear. It causes a painful bump to develop on the top rim or helix of the ear or the curved piece of cartilage just inside, known as the antihelix. The condition, abbreviated to CNH, is also known as Winkler disease.

CNH often affects those who sleep on one side of their body more than the other. The condition most commonly occurs in males aged 40 years old or older, but females and younger adults may also develop a nodule.

Below, we discuss the symptoms and causes of CNH, along with the best treatment options.

Share on PinterestChondrodermatitis nodularis helicis is a sensitive lump that forms on the top rim or helix of the ear. Image credit: Klaus D. Peter, Gummersbach, Germany

The most obvious symptom is a painful raised bump or nodule on the cartilage of the ear.

The nodule will typically grow bigger over time until it is between 5 and 10 millimeters (mm) in diameter.

There is often a tiny core in the bump that emits a scaly liquid. This liquid may cause a scab to form over the nodule when it dries.

Although small, a nodule caused by CNH is usually sensitive to touch and temperature. It can create an intensely sharp or stabbing sensation when irritated or exposed to cold.

A person cannot get rid of CNH by picking at a nodule. The lump may persist for several months or years.

When someone experiences pressure or trauma to the skin, it can be associated with CNH. People who sleep mainly on one side often develop a nodule. Experts believe changes in blood flow to the cartilage contribute to the problem.

A bump may, however, appear:

  • after a trauma, such as a knock to the ear cartilage
  • due to continued use of headphones or telephones
  • following frostbite or recurrent sun damage
  • spontaneously and for no apparent reason

Also, people with autoimmune diseases, particularly a condition known as systemic sclerosis, have reported having CNH.

Importantly, CNH is not contagious or hereditary, and it is not linked to skin cancer.

A dermatologist or doctor may be able to diagnose CNH by looking at the ear.

They will, however, probably order a biopsy to confirm this and to rule out more serious conditions. During a biopsy, a doctor will remove a small sample of the nodule, and send it away for examination under a microscope.

People sometimes mistake CNH for skin cancer, especially if the skin around the nodule bleeds or becomes scaly. This confusion is because basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer, and precancers can resemble some CNH nodules.

People who experience CNH can treat the condition with self-care techniques and medications.

Self-care techniques

Share on PinterestCNH can develop when a person always sleeps on the same side of their body.

People can find relief using home remedies to improve sleep and reduce the symptoms of pain and pressure in the ear.

To relieve discomfort or pain, a person can:

  • Sleep on the other side to avoid putting pressure on the nodule.
  • Use a soft pillow to prevent CNH developing on the other ear.
  • Make a hole in the pillow around the ear area to reduce pressure or buy a special cushion for CNH.
  • Use foam rubber, held in place with a headband, to make an ear protector to wear at night. Or, wear a moleskin bandage or get a made-to-measure silicone splint.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to sun or freezing temperatures.
  • Wear a warm hat, pulled over the ears, during cold and windy weather.
  • Avoid pressing a phone against the ear and consider putting calls on loudspeaker when possible.
  • Apply petroleum jelly to an irritated nodule.

Medication and medical treatments

If someones quality of life is affected by CNH, and they are unable to manage it with self-care techniques, a doctor can treat it with:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotic ointment may be prescribed for an ulcerated and infected CNH.
  • Corticosteroids: A topical corticosteroid cream can reduce pain and redness. A doctor may alternatively administer a corticosteroid injection into the nodule.
  • Collagen: This can be injected under the skin to provide a protective layer over the cartilage.
  • Liquid nitrogen: To encourage the nodule to heal, a doctor may attempt to freeze it with liquid nitrogen.
  • Nitroglycerin: A doctor may prescribe this treatment for severe cases of CNH. Some research reports successful use of a nitroglycerin patch to improve blood circulation to the ear. This could cause the nodule to reduce in size over time. Potential side effects include headaches, flushing, and reduced blood pressure.
  • Laser treatment: Less commonly, CNH may be removed using a concentrated beam of light. This is known as laser therapy.


Surgery for CNH was once the preferred method of treatment. But recent studies suggest that more conservative treatments may be just as effective. Surgery is now reserved for severe cases or when other treatments fail to improve CNH.

When surgery is required, a doctor will usually do an excision biopsy by removing the nodule under a local anesthetic. Changes to the nerves during an operation may help to reduce pain around the CNH.

The recurrence rate of CNH after an excision biopsy is, however, estimated to be around 10 to 38 percent. It may recur because a surgeon did not succeed in removing all of the damaged cartilage during an operation.

Share on PinterestThe severity of pain can vary with CNH but people can often manage the condition using home remedies.

People may experience symptoms that range from mild discomfort to severe pain when they have CNH. The condition is not, however, harmful or cancerous.

CNH is treatable, and the long-term outlook is good. Most people respond well to medications or medical procedures.

Doctors typically recommended surgery to remove the nodule when other treatments have not been successful.

Many people can manage their symptoms, at least in the short term, using home remedies, such as special pillows and changes in sleeping habits.

6 Outer Ear Pain Causes

6 Outer ear pain causes

The majority of outer ear pain stems from infection of the outer ear canal or otitis externa. The following details may help you better understand your symptoms and if and when you need to see a physician.


Irritation of the outer ear can result in pain.

  • Scratches or abrasions: Cleaning your ears excessively with cotton swabs or scratching inside the ear with a finger can result in breaks in the skin that allow bacteria to grow.
  • Sensitivity: Jewelry or hair products can cause allergy irritation to the skin and promote infection.


Conditions that result in excess moisture inside the ear canal create an environment ideal for bacterial growth.

  • Environmental: External factors such as swimming and perspiration put moisture directly into the ear canal. Repeat exposure can result in bacterial growth and future infection.
  • Structural: Some people have narrow ear canals that make drainage of moisture more difficult and promote bacterial growth and infection.
  • Devices: Gadgets you put directly into your ears, such as headphones or hearing aids, can also cause blockages that trap excess water.

Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa)

Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is an infection of the canal which runs from the eardrum to the opening of the ear.

It is caused by anything that introduces bacteria, fungus, or a virus into the canal. Water that stays inside the ear after swimming is a common cause, as are cotton swabs used for cleaning or earpieces that create irritation.

Most susceptible are children, because they have narrower ear canals that do not drain well.

Early symptoms include redness, itching, and discomfort inside the ear canal, sometimes with drainage of clear fluid.

Even mild symptoms should be treated because they can quickly get worse. The infection can spread and intensify, becoming very painful with increased drainage, swelling, fever, and loss of hearing.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination of the ear canal. Lab tests may be done on a sample of the discharge from the ear.

Treatment includes having a medical provider clean the ear canal of debris and discharge, and a prescription for antibiotic and/or steroid eardrops.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fever, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, jaw pain, ear pain that gets worse when moving

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Relapsing polychondritis

Relapsing polychondritis is a disorder in which defects develop in cartilage and other tissues throughout the body, including the ears, nose, eyes, joints, and respiratory tract. It is considered a rare condition.

Symptoms vary widely by case, but you may experie…

Mild frostbite of the ears

Frostbite is tissue damage caused by exposure to the cold (at or below 32F or 0C). It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports. It is also more likely in those who are intoxicated or have a mental disorder.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: swollen ear, ear numbness, outer ear pain, ear redness, turning blue or purple from coldness

Symptoms that always occur with mild frostbite of the ears: cold ears

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Mild frostnip of the ears

Frostnip is damage of the outermost layers of the skin caused by exposure to the cold (at or below 32F or 0C). It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: ear numbness, outer ear pain, ear redness, turning blue or purple from coldness, cold ears

Symptoms that always occur with mild frostnip of the ears: cold ears

Urgency: In-person visit


Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deep layers of the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body but is most common on the feet, lower legs, and face.

The condition can develop if Staphylococcus bacteria enter broken skin through a cut, scrape, or existing skin infection such as impetigo or eczema.

Most susceptible are those with a weakened immune system, as from corticosteroids or chemotherapy, or with impaired circulation from diabetes or any vascular disease.

Symptoms arise somewhat gradually and include sore, reddened skin.

If not treated, the infection can become severe, form pus, and destroy the tissue around it. In rare cases, the infection can cause blood poisoning or meningitis.

Symptom of severe pain, fever, cold sweats, and fast heartbeat should be seen immediately by a medical provider.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

Treatment consists of antibiotics, keeping the wound clean, and sometimes surgery to remove any dead tissue. Cellulitis often recurs, so it is important to treat any underlying conditions and improve the immune system with rest and good nutrition.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fever, chills, facial redness, swollen face, face pain

Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis: facial redness, area of skin redness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Eczema (atopic dermatitis)

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a non-contagious chronic skin condition that produces an itchy rash. It is caused by a genetic condition that affects the skin’s ability to protect itself from bacteria and allergens. The most susceptible are those with a family hi…

Causes, Treatment, and When to See a Doctor

Ear pain may be caused by a problem inside the ear, such as an outer or middle ear infection, or from a problem outside (but near) the ear, such as sinusitis, temporomandibular joint syndrome, or a dental infection. How ear pain feels (aching, sharp, dull, etc.), its intensity, its location, and other symptoms you are experiencing (e.g., fever, dizziness) can give your doctor a place to begin when working to make a diagnosis.

Most often, your doctor can achieve this without any testing, though some cases may call for imaging and blood tests in order to rule out more serious causes of ear pain, like mastoiditis or an ear tumor.

The treatment plan your doctor creates for your ear pain will depend on your underlying diagnosis and may entail a combination of therapies.

Illustration by Alexandra Gordon, Verywell


Due to the multiple possible causes of ear pain, it’s easiest to consider primary diagnoses (those that originate within the ear) versus secondary diagnoses (those that originate outside the ear) separately.

Primary Causes

Conditions that often cause ear pain and originate within the ear include the following.

Otitis Media

Otitis media describes a middle ear infection in which fluid and inflamed tissue builds up in the middle ear space—the area between your eardrum (tympanic membrane) and the oval window of your inner ear.

Besides a moderate to severe aching pain felt deep in the ear, a person with otitis media may report several days of nasal congestion and/or a cough preceding the ear pain. Sometimes, a fever may occur.

If the eardrum ruptures as a result of the pressure buildup, purulent (containing pus) ear drainage may result.

Otitis Media With Effusion

Otitis media with effusion (OME) describes the presence of middle ear fluid without signs of infection. In other words, there is fluid buildup without tissue inflammation. Overall, the ear pain of OME is generally mild and associated with a feeling of ear fullness and/or decreased hearing.

Typically, OME follows acute otitis media, but it may also occur as a result of barotrauma (injury caused by air or water pressure) or allergy. Rarely, OME occurs as a result of tumor blockage of the eustachian tube—a tunnel that connects the middle ear to the upper throat and back of the nose.

External Otitis (Swimmer’s Ear)

External otitis—an infection of the ear canal—causes a feeling of ear fullness, itchiness, and significant ear pain when the earlobe is pulled.  Yellowish or clear-colored ear discharge may also occur, along with decreased hearing and swelling of the ear canal.

The reason external otitis is commonly called “swimmer’s ear” is because it often develops when water gets trapped in the ear canal. Another common culprit behind external otitis involves the frequent use of cotton swabs. Inserting them into the ear can create small cuts in the ear canal that serve as a breeding ground for bacteria.

A severe complication of external otitis is necrotizing (malignant) external otitis in which the ear canal infection spreads to the base of the skull. This condition is more common in older people with diabetes mellitus.

Earwax Blockage

The purpose of earwax (cerumen) is to protect your ear canal from water, bacteria, and injury. Sometimes though, too much earwax is produced or the wax gets pushed back too deep into the ear canal (why doctors recommend not using cotton swabs to clean out your ears).

If an earwax blockage occurs, ear discomfort—often reported as a full or congested sensation—may occur. Problems hearing and ringing in the ear may also result from earwax blockage.

Eustachian Tube Blockage

The eustachian tube is a narrow tunnel that connects your upper throat to your middle ear. It regulates the air pressure in and drains excess fluid from your middle ear. If the eustachian tube becomes blocked, often as a result of allergy, infection, or a rapid altitude change, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Ear pain
  • Ringing or popping in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing loss

Ear Skin Problems

Sometimes ear pain originates from the skin of the ear.

Three related conditions include:

  • Dermatitis of the ear, which causes itching, flaking, and swelling of the skin of the ear canal, may result from an allergic reaction (contact dermatitis) or as a result of an underlying skin problem (i. e., seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis).
  • Periauricular cellulitis (infected skin on the ear) results in a red, hot, and extremely tender ear. A fever may also be present.
  • Herpes zoster oticus (“shingles of the ear”) causes severe ear pain along with a vesicular rash (tense, fluid-filled sacs). In rare instances, facial paralysis may occur along with the rash and ear pain in what’s known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome.


Perichondritis arises from an infection of your ear cartilage, resulting in pain, swelling, and redness over the skin. Fever may also be present and sometimes an abscess (collection of pus) forms. Without treatment, perichondritis can lead to ear deformity (called cauliflower ear) as the infection cuts off blood supply to the cartilage, thereby destroying it.

Perichronditis is most likely to occur in people with certain autoimmune conditions, such as granulomatosis with polyangiitis, and those who experience trauma to the ear cartilage (e. g., upper ear piercing, a burn, or harsh contact from sports).

Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease is caused by excess fluid buildup in the inner ear, although the precise “why” behind this fluid retention is unknown. In addition to the classic triad of symptoms—vertigo, ringing in the ears, and hearing loss—some people with Meniere’s disease report ear pain or pressure.


Although not common, a cancerous or noncancerous tumor may be the source behind a person’s ear pain. For example, nasopharyngeal cancer (a type of head and neck cancer) may cause ear fullness, along with hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and recurrent ear infections.

Two examples of noncancerous tumors or growths that may develop in the ear and cause pain include:

  • Cholesteatoma: A benign skin growth that forms in the middle ear
  • Acoustic neuroma: A benign inner ear tumor that develops on the vestibular nerve (eighth cranial nerve). 

Secondary Causes

These conditions may cause ear pain, thought they originate outside of the ear.


Sinusitis refers to infection or inflammation of the sinuses, which are hollow spaces located behind your nose, between your eyes, and within your cheekbones and lower forehead. Sinusitis may cause a variety of symptoms, such as:

  • Ear pressure, discomfort, or fullness
  • Fever
  • Nasal congestion and discharge
  • Tooth pain
  • Headache

Most cases of sinusitis are caused by a viral illness or allergy; only a small percentage of cases are due to a bacterial infection.

Dental Problems

Dental problems, such as a cracked tooth, decayed tooth, or tooth abscess, may refer pain to the ear. Usually, the pain is worsened by hot or cold stimuli or biting or eating.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder

Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your lower jaw to the temporal bone of your skull.  Arthritis or erosion of the joint or stress/overuse of the surrounding muscles may cause TMJ disorder.

The pain of TMJ disorder is often described as a constant and dull jaw joint pain that worsens with opening or closing the mouth. Headaches and tenderness around the ear canal are also common.

Giant Cell Arteritis

Giant cell arteritis (GCA) refers to inflammation of the branches of the external carotid artery, a large artery located in your neck. This inflammation may cause pain in the ear canal or outer ear, along with temple and/or forehead pain, fever, fatigue, and a loss of appetite. Vision changes and pain with chewing may also be present.


If a middle ear infection remains untreated, the infection may spread to the mastoid bone—a spongy, air-filled bone that is part of your skull. A mastoid bone infection (mastoiditis) causes pain, redness, and swelling behind the ear.

If mastoiditis is not recognized and treated promptly, it can lead to complications like a brain or skull bone abscess, meningitis, facial nerve paralysis, or hearing loss.

When to See a Doctor

If you are experiencing ear pain that is worsening, severe, or persisting for two or more days, be sure seek medical attention.

Other examples of situations that warrant a doctor’s attention include:

  • Ear pain accompanied by a fever and/or a sore throat
  • Pain when tugging on your earlobe
  • Ear discharge
  • Ringing in the ears, dizziness, or hearing loss
  • Swelling or rash of the ear canal or earlobe


Diagnosing ear pain often only requires a medical history and physical examination by a primary care physician or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. Imaging and blood tests are less commonly needed.

Medical History

When you see your doctor for ear pain, you can expect him to ask several questions related to the details of your pain:

  • What does the pain feel like?
  • Does the pain come and go or is it constant?
  • Are there any associated symptoms present, such as fever, hearing loss, balance problems or dizziness, ear drainage, or tinnitus (ringing in the ears)?
  • Have you recently been ill or experienced any trauma to the face or ear?

Physical Examination

During your physical exam, your doctor will inspect the outer ear, ear canal, and tympanic membrane (eardrum) with an otoscope. Your doctor will also inspect your nose, mouth, and sinuses. He may also press on your TMJ, look at your back molars to check for signs of grinding or frequent clenching of the teeth, and examine your neck to look for enlarged lymph nodes or other masses.

Keep in mind, as part of your exam, your ENT may perform a nonsurgical procedure called nasal endoscopy to better examine your nose and sinuses. The endoscope—a thin tube with a camera and light—allows your doctor to better examine your nose, sinuses, and the top of your throat (where the opening of your eustachian tube lies).

Lastly, if you are experiencing hearing loss and/or dizziness (balance problems), your ENT may refer you for a hearing and/or a vestibular function test.


Imaging is sometimes needed to sort out an ear pain diagnosis. For example, an X-ray may be ordered to evaluate a dental problem or to examine the jaw in TMJ disorder.

A computed tomography (CT) scan may be necessary if mastoiditis is suspected, especially if a person is experiencing worrisome complications of mastoiditis, like cranial nerve deficits or signs of meningitis. 

A CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be ordered if your doctor suspects a possible tumor, such as nasopharyngeal cancer or cholesteatoma, as the source of your ear pain. An MRI to examine your brain may be used to evaluate for a diagnosis of Meniere’s disease, as central nervous system conditions, like a brain tumor or multiple sclerosis, may mimic the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.

Blood Tests

Blood tests may be used to help diagnose various ear pain conditions. For instance, if your doctor suspects a severe infection, especially mastoiditis, he may order a white blood cell count and inflammatory marker tests, namely erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP).

Blood tests may also be used to rule out concerns like thyroid disease, diabetes, and syphilis, all of which may have symptoms similar to those of Meniere’s.


As there are many different causes of ear pain, there are similarly many possible treatments.  The treatment of choice will specifically depend on the root cause of your ear pain.

Self-Care Strategies

Simple, at-home therapies can sometimes go a long way in easing your ear pain, especially if your ear pain is related to fluid build-up from a virus or allergies.

For instance, in order to ease the congestion of sinusitis, otitis media, or eustachian tube blockage, your doctor may recommend taking an over-the-counter decongestant or using a nasal spray.

Other self-care strategies that may be helpful include:

  • Hold a warm compress against your ear or sinuses
  • Take a hot bath or shower to loosen congestion
  • Yawn or chew gum in order to try “pop” your ears
  • Drink lots of water (six to eight glasses per day)

Self-care strategies also play an important role in managing TMJ syndrome. These strategies include:

  • Performing simple jaw exercises
  • Avoiding triggers of TMJ pain (e. g., chewing gum or grinding your teeth)
  • Using a bite guard when you sleep
  • Engaging in relaxation and stress management techniques

Ear Flushing

Ear flushing is performed by a healthcare professional to remove impacted wax. The procedure is also used to remove debris, infected material, and dead skin cells in the treatment of otitis externa.


Several different medications may be used to treat your ear pain:

Ear Drops

Earwax-softening drops may be recommended by your doctor if you have earwax buildup.

Likewise, ear drops are the primary treatment for external otitis. There are many different types of ear drops available, including antibiotics, acidifying solutions, and steroids. Many of these ear drops work in combination to reduce inflammation, treat the infection, and ease pain.

Oral or Intravenous Antibiotics

Sometimes oral (by mouth) or intravenous (by vein) antibiotics are required to treat more serious causes of ear pain, such as:

  • Bacterial sinusitis
  • Severe cases of external otitis, including necrotizing (malignant) external otitis
  • Perichondritis
  • Mastoiditis
  • Periauricular cellulitis

Pain Relievers

To soothe your ear pain, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter Tylenol (acetaminophen) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen).  For the pain of TMJ syndrome, your doctor may also prescribe a muscle relaxant or a tricyclic antidepressant.


A surgical procedure called a myringotomy is sometimes needed to treat chronic middle ear infections or persistent eustachian tube dysfunction.

With a myringotomy, a small hole is made in your eardrum to ease pressure and let the fluid drain. An ear tube may then be placed in the eardrum to allow airflow into the middle ear and to prevent fluid from re-accumulating.

Surgery may also be indicated for other ear pain diagnoses like a tumor, severe mastoiditis, or abscess formation in perichondritis.


Here are a few strategies that may help prevent certain ear pain diagnoses:

To prevent earwax buildup:

  • Avoid chronic use of cotton swabs or earwax softening agents, such as Debrox (carbamide peroxide)
  • If you suffer from frequent episodes of earwax buildup, consider regular use of topical emollients or a routine ear cleaning by a healthcare professional every six to 12 months

To prevent external otitis (“swimmer’s ear”):

  • After swimming, blow-dry your ears (using a low setting and holding the hairdryer about a foot away).
  • Consider wearing special earplugs for swimming.
  • Avoid sticking your finger or towel into your ears after swimming.

A Word From Verywell

Ear pain is not only unpleasant, but it’s oftentimes distracting and frustrating. The good news is that the majority of diagnoses are curable, especially if treated promptly. With that, be sure to see your doctor if you develop ear pain, so you can get back to enjoying life.

Ear Hurts to Touch | Ear Infection Causes and Treatment

If your ear hurts to touch, you may have an outer ear infection (otitis externa). This infection of the outer ear and the ear canal is caused by bacteria or fungi that thrive in the moist, dark environment of the ear.

Symptoms of an Outer Ear Infection

You may have an outer ear infection if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Itching in the ear canal
  • Ear pain that gets worse when the ear is touched or pulled
  • Redness and swelling of the ear canal
  • Painful lump in the ear canal
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands in the neck

While these symptoms are uncomfortable, an outer ear infection is usually not dangerous and can be treated effectively with antibacterial drops or oral antibiotics. However, people who have diabetes, weakened immune systems, and the elderly can develop malignant otitis externa. This is a rare, non-cancerous form of infection that can spread to the surrounding bones and be fatal if left untreated.

Causes of Otitis Externa

Otitis externa is often caused by prolonged periods of swimming, especially in bacteria-contaminated water. Several other conditions can contribute to outer ear infections:

  • Skin disorders such as eczema or seborrheic dermatitis
  • Inserting objects into the ear that can irritate or damage the skin in the ear canal, making it prone to infection
  • Inadequate production of ear wax that protects the ear canal from infection
  • Other irritants such as earwax removers, hair dyes, shampoos, or chlorinated water

Ear Infection Treatment at FastMed Urgent Care

The pain of an ear infection can make you miserable and can get worse without treatment. Get fast relief from the pain of otitis externa at your local FastMed Urgent Care.

We are open for extended hours during the week and see patients throughout the weekend. You never need an appointment, and we do our best to get you in and out and on your way in under an hour. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to learn more about FastMed Urgent Care in your community!

When your ear hurts to touch and you suspect an ear infection, visit your local FastMed Urgent Care for fast, high-quality, and compassionate care.

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Health Communities: http://www.healthcommunities.com/ear-infections/outer-ear-infection-otitis-externa
WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ear-infection/tc/swimmers-ear-otitis-externa

Causes, treatment, and relief tips

The outer edge of the ear is primarily made up of cartilage, and in some individuals, a sudden sensation of ear cartilage pain may occur. The initial presentation may feel like a pinch or a sharp pain in the outer ear cartilage with not much explanation as to why it occurred in the first place. The external ear consists of tissue, blood vessel, and cartilage, with its main responsibility being a sound receptor for which sound is funneled through the ear canal to the eardrum.

Auricular chondritis: Ear cartilage inflammation

Auricular chondritis is a condition where the cartilage of the ear is inflamed. Inflammation is the process in while immune cells of the body react to what they perceive as a foreign invader. When this occurs in the ear, it can cause it to look inflamed, swollen, red, and feel painful.

The ear itself is primarily composed of a type of springy and supple elastic cartilage, giving us the typical ear shape. Cartilage itself does not have a blood supply running through it like other tissues in the body, and this results in extended healing times needed in order for cartilage to heal appropriately. The perichondrium, soft tissue adjacent to the ear cartilage, provides some of the blood supply. If this source of blood perfusion becomes compromised in any way, the cartilage can die off and shrink.

Signs and symptoms of ear cartilage pain (auricular chondritis)

The presentation of auricular chondritis may vary from case to case, with the following being some possible symptoms:

  • Pain and tenderness of the affected area
  • Soreness
  • Possible fever
  • Pus-like discharge
  • Aching
  • Puffiness
  • Red or bluish color

What causes ear cartilage pain?

The causes for inflammation of the ear cartilage can be various. The following are a few probably causes:

  • Polychondritis: A rare condition where cartilage in several places over the body, in particular, the ears, nose, and airways of the lungs, become inflamed. The common age of incidence is the 50s and 60s with the cause being relatively unknown. Diagnosis is made using a biopsy.
  • Ear piercings: Especially ones through the upper third portion of the ear that go through cartilage and not the earlobe. This may sometimes be referred to as “high” ear piercings. These types of piercings are more susceptible to bacterial infections by pseudomonas aeruginosa or staphylococcus aureus. If left untreated, the formation of a puss filled abscess may develop, resulting in the cartilage to die off.
  • Cuts to the ear: Increases the chance of bacterial infection leading to inflammation.
  • Trauma to the ear: A direct blow or impact to the external ear may cause significant tissue damage, resulting in the accumulation of blood between the cartilage and perichondrium and subsequent inflammation. The ear may take a cauliflower-like appearance.
  • Surgery complication: Procedures such as otoplasty or pinnaplasty that aid in reshaping the ear, or procedures to remove a lesion such as a cholesteatoma, may result in inflammation due to surgical trauma.
  • Perichondritis: An infection of the surrounding exterior cartilage. It can be caused by trauma or recent surgery to the ear. Not a direct infection of the cartilage itself, but rather the perichondrium—the thin tissue that envelopes the cartilage providing it essential nutrients.
  • Sunburn: Direct trauma from the sun due to prolonged exposure, causing pain.

Ear cartilage pain treatment options

The stage of inflammation or how long an infection has progressed will typically dictate the steps required for ear cartilage pain treatment. The following are some of the most common methods:

  • Antibiotics: Commonly prescribed for bacterial infections. Penicillin combined with flucloxacillin may be given, but depending on the type of bacteria, other medications may be better suited.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: Aids in decreasing the swelling and reducing pain.
  • Abscess draining: If an abscess is appreciated, it will be necessary to drain it by making an incision. Once drained, stitches may be required to ensure proper healing.

In severe cases where cartilage death has occurred, it will be necessary to remove the dead tissue and cartilage.

Ear cartilage pain relief and prevention tips

While not all causes of auricular chondritis can be prevented—as in cases of unavoidable trauma or suffering from cartilage centric disease—there are some preemptive things one can do to reduce chances of occurrence:

  • Avoid placing objects in the ear, this includes cotton balls, your fingers, and sharp objects. If ear wax is an issue, it may be beneficial to get it professionally removed.
  • Do not put any unnecessary mechanical pressure on the ears. This may occur by pressing phones, headbands, or headphones directly into the ear.
  • Wear ear protection during concerts while cutting the lawn or utilizing loud heavy machinery.
  • If you own a bike or motorcycle, make sure the helmet is not too tight fitting around the ears.
  • When playing sports, wear the appropriate protective gear to protect the ears from accidental trauma.

Ear Swelling – Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

The sensation of swelling in, on or around your ear may cause it to feel warm, inflamed and tender. Many causes of swelling and inflammation are attributed to an infection, which occurs when bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms enter your body. Your immune system mounts a response to the microorganisms. It is this response by your immune system that produces the typical symptoms of infection, such as redness, warmth and swelling.

An ear swelling is often attributed to otitis media with effusion, in which the Eustachian tube of the middle ear becomes blocked with fluid and infected. The Eustachian tube connects your ear to the throat and permits the drainage of fluid from your middle ear. If fluid builds up, it can cause the middle ear to become infected with bacteria or viruses, causing pain and swelling.

Another source of swelling is otitis externa, commonly known as swimmer’s ear. This condition, which results from water getting into the outer ear canal, is often accompanied by burning, swelling and itching. Water remaining in the ear creates a warm, moist environment that encourages the growth of bacteria, such as Pseudomonas. Other causes can contribute to otitis externa, including an infection of the bone at the base of the skull, a foreign object lodged in the ear, and irritation from itching or cleaning the ear. Allergies to earrings or skin conditions, such as eczema, can also produce symptoms similar to swimmer’s ear.

Swelling accompanied by fever and redness around the outer ear and the skin around your ear can be indications of a serious infection that should prompt you to contact your health care provider right away. If your experience tenderness in the bone behind your ear, along with pain and swelling, you could have mastoiditis (infection of the mastoid bone behind the ear).

Although most ear infections either resolve on their own or with antibiotics, some symptoms warrant immediate medical attention, as they can point to an infection of the bones behind the ear. Ear swelling may also be a symptom of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have any serious symptoms, including swelling of the throat or difficulty breathing; high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit; severe pain or severe headache; swelling and redness of the skin around the ear; or throbbing or tenderness behind the ear, especially over the bone.

What Is Ear Pain? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

The treatment for ear pain often depends on what’s causing the problem. Common treatments include medication, surgery, and home remedies.

Medication Options

To reduce ear pain, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) drugs such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Your doctor may also recommend OTC ear drops to relieve the pain, but these should never be used if there’s a chance the eardrum has ruptured.

Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed for ear infections, but in many cases, they aren’t necessary. In children, antibiotics such as amoxicillin may be used to treat ear infections that are severe or last for more than a few days.

A buildup of earwax in the ear canal can cause an earache. Still, never stick anything into your ear — including a cotton swab, which will just push the wax deeper into the ear instead of removing it. Excessive earwax should be diagnosed and treated by a healthcare professional.

Home Remedies and Alternative and Complementary Therapies

Many people experience ear pain and mild hearing loss or muffling due to sudden changes in air pressure, such as when they’re traveling on an airplane, taking an elevator, or diving to the bottom of a swimming pool. When this occurs, swallowing repeatedly — for example, by chewing gum or sucking on hard candy — can help clear your ears.

(This kind of ear pain is usually temporary and rarely leads to lasting problems.)A cold compress can help relieve ear pain. Place a cold pack or wet washcloth on the affected ear for about 20 minutes.

Both hot and cold packs can be used to ease the symptoms of TMJ (as can stress-reduction techniques or mouth guards).

Instead of lying flat, try resting with your head propped up. This can help ease the pressure in the middle ear.

A review of studies published in February 2016 in the journal Medicine considered a number of complementary and alternative treatments for pediatric otitis media, including homeopathy, phytotherapy, xylitol (a sugar alcohol), vitamin D supplements, and probiotics. Researchers found that there may be some benefits to these therapies, but evidence is limited and more research is needed.

Surgery Options

Children who are prone to earaches from ear infections may need to have a surgical procedure in which a small tube is inserted into the eardrums to prevent fluid buildup. Short-term tubes usually last about 6 to 9 months before falling out on their own.

Long-term tubes are larger and secured in place.

Prevention of Ear Pain

Ear pain isn’t always preventable, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of ear injuries and ear infections.

Keep all foreign objects out of your ears, and always dry your ears after swimming, showering, or bathing. You can also wear a bathing cap, earplugs, or use custom-fitted swim molds when swimming.

If you smoke, quit; likewise, try to avoid secondhand smoke, which has been linked to ear infections in children.

One good step to stay healthy is to get a flu vaccine every year.

Children should get the pneumococcal vaccine as well, since the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae can cause middle ear infections.

Ear hurts


The information in this section cannot be used for self-diagnosis and self-medication. In case of pain or other exacerbation of the disease, only the attending physician should prescribe diagnostic tests. For a diagnosis and correct treatment, you should contact your doctor.

The ear hurts – the reasons for the appearance, for what diseases it occurs, the diagnosis and methods of treatment.

Ear pain can be caused by diseases of different parts of the hearing organ, located nearby organs, head injuries, and can also appear due to the spread of pain from other parts of the body. Such pain is caused by inflammatory, skin, neurological, dental, rheumatic, infectious pathologies.

The nature of such pain does not explain the cause of the disease. The doctor must evaluate the results of laboratory and instrumental examinations in order to clarify the diagnosis.

Varieties of ear pain

Most often, these pains are a consequence of otitis media – a disease of the outer, middle or inner ear.

Mastoiditis, arthritis of the temporomandibular joint, inflammation of the cervical lymph nodes – these are pathologies of nearby organs that often cause ear pain.

Ear pain can occur due to the spread of pain along the cranial nerves.For example, a toothache is transmitted through the auditory branch of the trigeminal nerve to the ears.

Traumatic rupture of the tympanic membrane is the cause of ear pain due to injuries from falls, blows to the head.

We will tell you about the diseases that most often cause ear pain.

Possible Causes

Pain with mastoiditis

Mastoiditis, that is, purulent inflammation of the bone tissue of the mastoid process of the temporal bone, located behind the auricle, is the most characteristic complication of otitis media and a frequent consequence of its improper treatment.

Pain with otitis externa

Otitis externa is an inflammation of the external ear, which consists of the auricle, the external auditory canal and the tympanic membrane separating it from the middle ear. The main symptom of the disease is a furuncle – a purulent inflammation of the hair follicle, capturing the sebaceous gland. Sometimes boils can appear after cleaning the ears too hard, when microtrauma forms on the skin of the ear canal, through which the infection penetrates.

Pain with otitis media

The middle section of the organ of hearing begins behind the eardrum. It is a small, air-filled space in the temporal bone between the outer ear canal and the inner ear.

There are three tiny bones here: the hammer, the incus, and the stapes. The eardrum vibrates with acoustic waves. The vibrations are transmitted to the bones.Through the oval window separating the middle and inner ear, the stapes sends a signal to the fluid that fills the inner ear – perilymph.

Otitis media begins as a complication not of otitis externa, but acute respiratory infections, flu, tonsillitis.

With these ailments, an excess amount of mucus is formed, which enters the Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear cavity to the nasopharynx and equalizes air pressure in both directions. If this organ becomes inflamed, eustacheitis develops – a frequent companion of otitis media.

Pain with internal otitis media

Otitis media is also called labyrinthitis, since the inner ear is called a labyrinth due to its peculiar shape. Its main function is to conduct sound waves and convert them into electrical impulses for the brain. The snail, which is part of the labyrinth, belongs to the organ of hearing. The other two parts – the vestibule of the cochlea and the semicircular canals – to the organ of balance.

Usually labyrinthitis is a complication of otitis media.

Less commonly, this disease occurs as a result of microtrauma through the eardrum and middle ear with sharp objects, which are sometimes recklessly used to clean the ears, or as a result of damage to the temporal bone during head injuries.

Which diseases cause

Pain with mastoiditis

Ear pain is very severe, often covers half of the head on the side of the lesion, worse at night.

The rest of the symptoms of mastoiditis are found in severe otitis media. This is a noise in the ear, severe hearing loss, an increase in body temperature, a significant deterioration in the general condition, suppuration from the ear, detected by otoscopy.

Pain with otitis externa

The pain gradually increases as the follicle matures, it can radiate to the jaw, neck, and intensify when chewing and pressing on the tragus – a cartilaginous protrusion on the outer ear.The pain is accompanied by itching, a feeling of fullness in the ear. Hearing may deteriorate, body temperature may rise.

Pain with otitis media

Earache, throbbing, aching, shooting, often radiating to the teeth and back of the head, usually accompanied by fever. Ear pain with external and otitis media is easy to distinguish. In the first case, it increases if you press on the tragus, in the second, it remains unchanged.

Pain due to labyrinthitis

Such pain in the ear is accompanied by hearing loss, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, headaches, staggering when walking, involuntary twitching of the muscles of the eyeball.

Diagnostics and examinations

Pain with otitis externa

Otoscopy – examination of the external auditory canal and tympanic membrane by an ENT doctor using specialized instruments.

Pain with otitis media

Assessment of hearing by means of an audiometric examination, including tuning fork tests.These are tests with tuning forks to determine if the hearing loss is associated with inflammation in the middle ear or with damage to the auditory nerve. Bacterial culture is performed from the middle ear with determination of sensitivity to an extended spectrum of antimicrobial drugs, radiography or CT of the temporal bone, as well as tympanometry, in which the mobility of the tympanic membrane is assessed.

90,000 Ear pain

Every minute of his life, a person relies on five senses of perception: sight, smell, taste, sensation and hearing.Therefore, when one of the perceptions is dulled due to pain, there is little pleasant. Moreover, when such an important organ hurts.

Ear pain is common. However, pain is not always a serious cause for concern. Knowing what and when to pay attention, you can easily determine the causes of pain yourself.

Causes of ear pain

Pain in the area of ​​the hearing organs can be caused by inflammatory processes or be of a purely reflex nature.Ear pain can also become one of the complications of diseases such as tonsillitis or sinusitis. In addition, ear disease otitis media also causes pain. However, there may be other reasons.

By itself, the pain in the ear area can be acute (usually with diseases) or dull (inflammation, complications after illness, etc.). Pain can also be caused by simple pressure on the eardrum. This happens when a lot of fluid accumulates in the auricle, which contributes to pulsation and greater tension in the membrane.In such cases, dull pain also occurs.

Ear pain occurs in some cases and with a cold, due to nasal congestion. During this period, sleep disturbance may also occur. Although, given that a cold, as a rule, goes away on its own, then the painful sensations also do not last for a long time.

Symptoms of pain in the ear area

We all know that our hearing organ consists of three parts: the middle, inner and outer ear. All three parts can be affected.In this case, a person may experience several types of pain in the ear area: aching, pressing and shooting. If you feel pain in the outer ear or auricle, which intensifies when you press on the tragus, there is a possibility of otitis externa, since such pain is the first sign of it. If the pain intensifies and becomes shooting and excruciating, it is worth consulting a doctor in order to prevent the development of otitis media. A similar disease will also be accompanied by a fever.

Both otitis externa and otitis media are the result of a bacterial or viral infection. Children and adolescents are most susceptible to otitis media, since the Eustachian tube of their auditory organs is somewhat shorter than that of adults, and this allows infection to easily enter the middle part of the auditory organ.

The symptoms of otitis media also include: poor appetite (usually manifested in childhood, since the pressure in the middle ear causes quite severe pain that they cannot cope with on their own), irritability, sleep disturbances, fever (a consequence of increased temperature), dizziness.Otitis media can also be accompanied by unpleasant discharge from the ears. The fluid can be yellow, brown, or white and will be a sure sign that your eardrum is ruptured. In addition, fluid build-up in the auditory organ will impair hearing and, if the infection persists, complete hearing loss.

Also, pain can be caused by inflammation of the outer ear or auricle. In this case, it is worthwhile to postpone swimming or flying, as this can cause increased pain and unpleasant consequences in the form of ear diseases.

Headache in the ear region

Otitis media is very often accompanied by headaches. The pain is usually localized to the ear, but may also be in the frontal region. This pain comes on very quickly, is acute, and may be accompanied by fever and dizziness.

In chronic otitis media, the pain is aching in nature and is localized in the area of ​​the infected part of the ear. Pain in the back of the head is also noted.

Severe and sharp pain throughout the head area, accompanied by nausea and vomiting, is a clear sign of complications of otitis media and its progression to meningitis.In this case, you need to see a doctor immediately.

In general, headaches are characteristic of complex forms of otitis media or complications of an existing infection. With proper and timely treatment, such problems should not arise.

Tragus pain is common with external ear infections. The pain increases even with a slight pressure on the tragus. In this case, the nature of the pain can be defined as pulling. If there are no purulent discharge and fever, then a warm compress will be enough to treat such an ailment.

If the pain in the ear area is similar to an electric shock and is pulsating, then the cause is most likely in trigeminal neuralgia. Pain occurs in bouts of 2 minutes, usually while chewing, brushing teeth, or smiling broadly. The pain can be dull and sharp, depending on the characteristics of the human body. In this case, reddening of the facial muscles of the face can be observed. Such an ailment cannot be cured on your own and you should immediately consult a neurologist.

Diagnosis of ear pain

A complete and high-quality diagnosis of the auditory organs for diseases can only be carried out by a qualified specialist. He checks the ear with an otoscope. A healthy eardrum is pink-gray in color and transparent. In other cases, we can talk about the presence of ear diseases. If abnormal or infected, the eardrum becomes red, inflamed, and swollen. Using a pneumatic otoscope, you can also check the presence of fluid in the auditory organ.This instrument allows you to change the pressure in the middle section of the auditory organ and act on the eardrum. If the eardrum moves effortlessly, there is no fluid. In no case should you try to carry out such a diagnosis on your own, since this can lead to a violation of the integrity of even a healthy eardrum, and then you definitely cannot avoid going to the doctor.

You can independently diagnose otitis externa.If, when pressed into the tragus, the pain in the area of ​​the auditory organs intensifies, then there is a suspicion of an infectious infection.

If the pain in the ear area increases when the earlobe is pulled back, this is a clear symptom of an infection of the outer ear. Such a disease can be either localized (boil, for example), or capture the entire auditory canal. In such a case, a doctor’s consultation is necessary.

If you have noticed a clear deterioration in hearing just recently, and besides, you feel the congestion of the organ of hearing, which does not go away when swallowing, then most likely the case is in the formed sulfuric plug.This problem can be eliminated on your own, without the help of specialists.

Treatment of ear pain

Treatment for ear pain depends on the degree of infection and the diagnosis. If we are talking about a simple sulfuric plug, then it should first be softened a little with ear drops for several days or a week. Next, you should lie down in a warm bath, so that your ears are completely covered with water. If the plug has softened enough, then it will freely come out of the ear canal into the water.If not, then you should see a doctor. The technician will be able to remove the wax plug by injecting warm liquid into the ear canal with a syringe. Under water pressure, the plug will come out and your hearing will improve. But you should not carry out such a procedure on your own, because a sharp object (syringe) can permanently damage the hearing organ if mishandled.

Otitis media, in principle, is also easily treatable. When a bacterial infection occurs, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers.At temperatures above 38. 5 degrees, which can occur with a cold, acetaminophen or ibuprofen is used to reduce pain in the ear. The action of these drugs is enough to reduce pain for 1-2 hours. But, during sleep, the pain can intensify.

Antibiotics are only prescribed by doctors if the infection in the ear has nothing to do with a cold or other virus, as strong antibiotics can react with other drugs and cause a range of side effects such as diarrhea, rashes, or nausea.The antibiotic action should relieve ear pain in a very quick time. If within 48 hours the pain has not subsided, you should urgently see a doctor.

It happens that the fluid in the ear canal remains for a very long time and standard methods of treatment do not help. In this case, doctors can do myringotomy. This procedure involves making a small incision in the eardrum to drain fluid from the middle ear. The procedure is quite simple to perform and is performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis.

However, if your ears “shoot” you will be helped by traditional medicine. It is worth starting with a warm and warming compress on the sore ear. You need to put it 2-3 times a day for 2-4 hours. If, in addition to pain in the ears, there is also fever, it is not recommended to put a compress. A proper warming compress consists of a liquid mixture of heated alcohol mixed with water, vodka or camphor oil. The resulting solution should be moistened with a flannel cloth measuring 8 by 8 centimeters, with a cut in the center for the outer part of the ear.We put such a damp napkin on the ear, pushing the auricle into the slot, put thin cellophane on top (we also make a hole in it for the outer part of the auditory organ) 2-3 cm larger than the flannel cloth soaked in the solution, and cotton wool, the size from the palm. Such a compress should be tied on top with a bandage or wrapped in a scarf. Such a simple procedure will completely reduce pain, but you should not postpone the visit to the doctor.

Folk remedies will also help from pain in the ear area – salvation can also be found in simple indoor plants. Geranium will help in the fight against pain. Tear off a small leaf of the plant, rub it until juice and odor appear, and tuck it into the ear canal so that it can be easily reached. Apply a warming compress on top. The geranium leaf in the ear needs to be changed every 3-4 hours. For a similar purpose, royal begonia and crested chlorophytum can be used.

Instead of ear drops, which relieve pain and help fight infection, you can use aloe juice, or prepare a special mixture.To do this, take the oil of one walnut (you can easily squeeze out the oil with the help of a garlic dish) and one drop of tea tree oil (however, you can do without it). The resulting mass should be buried in the ears, 2-3 drops.

Prevention of pain in the ear area

As we have already found out, ear pain occurs due to an infection in the ear canal. Accordingly, prevention will mean combating and preventing such bacterial contamination.

Prevention is quite simple: first, you should carefully monitor the hygiene of the auditory organs. To do this, rinse your ear canals with a warm saline or herbal solution at least once a month. If you are prone to otitis media, try to prevent fluid from entering your ear while swimming.

In addition, otitis media can also occur as a complication after a cold. In this case, the first rule will be complete recovery and careful adherence to the regimen prescribed by the doctors.

The situation with the prevention of otitis media in children is more complicated. For the smallest, precautionary measures will include vaccinations against colds and flu, avoidance of contact with tobacco smoke (in case one of the family members smokes), and prevention of allergic reactions. It is the latter that can cause ear infections in children. In addition to all of the above, you should also monitor the condition of the adenoid. If necessary, the doctor can easily remove them and thereby protect them from complications associated with their enlargement and otitis media.

Remember our recommendations and be healthy!

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Perichondritis of the outer ear ›Diseases› DoctorPiter.


Perichondritis of the external ear is an inflammation of the auricle. It occurs due to infection in the perichondrium (a dense membrane of connective tissue that covers the cartilage).


The main symptom of external ear perichondritis is pain in the ear canal and / or in the auricle.Later, edema, hyperemia (filling the organ with blood) appears, purulent foci that look like tubercles form between the cartilage and perichondrium. The pathological process gradually captures the entire auricle with the exception of the lobe – there is no cartilage. At the same time, the auricle is enlarged, thickened, its surface is red and shiny. If there is suppuration, the ear hurts when touched. The body temperature is high, 38-39 ° C, accompanied by weakness, weakness. Due to constant pain in the ear, a person suffers from insomnia.After a while, the cartilage melts in a purulent process, dies, and the auricle is deformed.


Perichondritis of the outer ear develops when an infection enters the perichondrium. The most common cause of this disease is Pseudomonas aeruginosa. And it gets there with trauma to the auricle, burns, insect bites, abrasions of the ear or external auditory canal, and the abrasions can be microscopic. Also, perichondritis can develop as a complication of influenza, tuberculosis or a furuncle formed in the external auditory canal.

Depending on the origin, primary and secondary perichondritis are divided. The primary develops as a result of damage, and the secondary – complications after the disease.

Distinguish between serous and purulent forms of external ear perichondritis. With purulent perichondritis, there is a purulent inflammation that captures not only the perichondrium, but also the cartilage itself. This form is difficult and leads to a change in the shape of the auricle. In the serous form, the cartilage is not damaged, and the disease itself is not so violent.However, the serous form, if not treated or treated incorrectly, can develop into purulent.


At the first symptoms, you need to consult an otorhinolaryngologist. It is not difficult to make the correct diagnosis, a visual examination and a thorough questioning of the patient are enough. However, you will still need to pass two tests – a general blood test and a bacteriological study of purulent discharge.

It is necessary to differentiate perichondritis of the outer ear with phlegmon, erysipelas or otogematoma.


First, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic therapy is carried out, and antibiotics are chosen depending on the sensitivity of the microorganism that caused the disease. Locally, they either make lotions from 70 percent alcohol, boric acid or Burov’s liquid, or lubricate with iodine solution. Then physiotherapy is prescribed – UHF, UFO, microwave and X-ray therapy (a type of radiation therapy in which an organ or a limited area of ​​the body is irradiated with X-rays).

If there is suppuration, the help of a surgeon is required. It is necessary to make a wide incision parallel to the contours of the auricle, remove the necrotic cartilage, scrape out the abscess cavity and insert an antibiotic tampon. The abscess cavity is washed 3-4 times a day with an antibiotic solution and drained.

When treating, the patient needs peace and proper nutrition.

The prognosis of the disease is favorable, however, even with timely and correct treatment, it is not always possible to avoid deformation of the auricle.


Prevention of perichondritis of the external ear consists in the correct treatment of any mechanical damage to the ear. These include injuries, scrapes, wounds, abrasions, bites and bruises. With such damage, you need to properly disinfect the wound. It is also necessary to timely treat infectious ear diseases so that they do not cause purulent inflammation and an operation is not required. If purulent inflammation has developed, you need to determine exactly what caused it and choose the right antibiotic.

© Dr. Peter

Diseases of the human ear: types, symptoms, treatment, prevention

Without timely treatment of otitis media, the risk of developing serious complications, including hearing loss, increases.

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Sowing a smear from the ear will allow you to quickly establish the cause of the disease, as well as identify the patient’s sensitivity to antibiotics.

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Computed tomography is one of the available and informative methods for diagnosing diseases of the middle and inner ear.

How much does a CT scan cost?

An ear ultrasound is a painless examination that detects accumulated pus, mucosal lining and cystic fluid.

Where can you get an ultrasound scan?

In case of ear diseases, X-ray examination makes it possible to diagnose carious lesions of the temporal bone, cholesteatoma and neuroma of the auditory nerve.

How much does an X-ray cost?

Special offers, discounts and promotions will help you significantly save on medical examinations.

Learn more …

Traditionally, it is believed that most of the information from the world around a person receives through sight. But ears are also an extremely important part of our body, giving us happiness to hear the voices of loved ones, music, sounds of nature. At the same time, anatomically, this paired organ is the “gateway” for many infectious diseases that can affect the brain as well. Therefore, the importance of ear health should not be underestimated.You need to know about the first signs of their illness.

Diseases of the ear: what are they?

The ear is a unique organ in terms of the complexity of its structure. It consists of three parts – the outer, middle and inner ear. The external one includes the auricle and the external auditory canal (in fact, everything that can be examined without the use of special devices). The middle ear is the tympanic cavity with the ossicles inside the temporal bone. Finally, the inner ear includes a system of bony canals, which are responsible for converting sound waves into nerve impulses and for the balance of the body.

This is interesting
Another name for the inner ear – labyrinth – is associated with the complexity of the structure of this organ. Outwardly, it really resembles a bizarre plexus of channels through which the brain receives information about the position of the body even in the absence of visual information.

Ear diseases are not uncommon. According to the WHO, severe hearing loss is observed in 5% of the world’s population. But we are talking only about extreme forms of damage to the organ of hearing and balance, while diseases of moderate severity can occur repeatedly throughout life in people of all ages and professions.

Meanwhile, some people are more likely to see an ENT doctor complaining of ear problems than others. So, at risk are those whose work is associated with increased auditory stress (construction workers, nightclub workers, etc. ), swimmers, patients with chronic immunodeficiency and those whose family has hereditary ear diseases.

The number of ear ailments is very large, so it is so important to entrust the doctor with diagnosing a possible problem, and not look for an answer on your own, using the Internet or professional reference books.

Diseases of the ears can be divided into the following types:

  • Congenital – pathologies associated with anatomical or physiological malformations of the outer, middle or inner ear. May be hereditary or part of a complex developmental disorder. This type of pathology includes congenital sensorineural hearing loss, microtia, Goldenhar syndrome and others.
  • Traumatic and caused by mechanical influences – are the result of an accident or work injury.For example, a ruptured eardrum can be caused by a loud, harsh sound or even careless ear cleaning.
  • Infectious ear diseases are associated with an inflammatory process that occurs in response to the pathogenic action of viruses, bacteria or fungi. The causative agent of the infection enters the ear both from the external auditory canal and through the blood, in the presence of another serious illness (for example, sore throat or tuberculosis).

Depending on the nature of the course of the disease, there are:

  • Acute ear diseases – they are characterized by a sharp increase in symptoms and, as a rule, force the patient to immediately seek medical help.
  • Chronic ear diseases – often develop as a result of improper or untimely treatment, however, for some reason (hereditary predisposition, features of the underlying disease) can accompany a person for many years of life.

Diseases of the inner ear

This group of diseases includes pathologies associated with damage to the vestibular or auditory apparatus. As a result, the person either has impairment of hearing or problems with balance (sometimes both).Symptoms of inner ear disorders include tinnitus, hearing loss, balance disorder, nausea, dizziness, and weakness. If the cause is an infection, then signs of the inflammatory process also join the clinical picture.

The most common diseases of the inner ear are labyrinthitis, sensorineural hearing loss, Meniere’s disease and otosclerosis. In some pathologies, conservative treatment of the disease is considered optimal, while in others, the only chance to restore the functions of the organ of hearing and balance is surgery or the use of a hearing prosthesis.

This is interesting
Cochlear implantation is one of the most unusual operations to restore hearing in severe ear pathologies. During this intervention, the auditory nerve in the inner ear connects to an electrode, which in turn carries sound information from a microphone attached to the back of the patient’s head. This type of surgical care has helped hundreds of thousands of people around the world regain hearing (or, for the first time, the joy of sound perception) over the past decade.

Diseases of the middle ear

Since the middle ear communicates anatomically not only with the inner ear and external auditory canal, but also with the nasopharynx, this part of the organ can be involved in the pathological process for various reasons. At the same time, diseases of the middle ear affect the condition of other organs and tissues of the head. So, chronic otitis media can lead to paresis (paralysis) of the facial nerve or cause the development of meningitis.

Diseases of the middle ear are periodically observed in children: otitis media are often the result of chronic rhinitis, which almost inevitably affects babies in the first years of life.However, many adults also “chill” their ears, feeling pain and a feeling of pulsation from the side of the lesion, and also experiencing hearing impairment soon after the development of an acute respiratory illness. Another characteristic symptom of otitis media of the middle ear is autophony – an unusually strong perception of one’s own voice in one of the ears.

With the accumulation of pus in the middle ear cavity – this is noted due to an acute infection – a curvature or rupture of the tympanic membrane can occur, followed by the outflow of fluid.

The consequence of inflammatory or neoplastic diseases of the middle ear sometimes becomes irreversible deformation of the auditory ossicles – three tiny formations that are responsible for the transmission of a sound wave from the eardrum to the inner part of the organ. In this case, doctors can offer the patient an operation for their prosthetics.

Diseases of the external ear

Physiologically, the human ear is adapted to the effects of external factors – and if the immune system is in order, then the likelihood that the infection will cause an inflammatory process is low.However, the unfavorable environmental situation in big cities, the abuse of antibiotics and the wrong technique for hygienic cleaning of the ears can lead to otitis externa – inflammation of the external auditory canal. It is accompanied by itching and pain, which are aggravated by jaw movements and touching the auricle.

Another reason for the appearance of unpleasant symptoms is boils in the auricle area. This disease is often observed in people suffering from metabolic disorders, such as diabetes.An attempt to squeeze out a boil or its incorrect treatment significantly aggravate the pathological process.

It is important to know
Otitis externa is often called a swimmer’s disease, because it is their ears that are subject to constant contact with a possible source of infection – water – and also undergo pressure changes when diving into the water. Therefore, those who like to train in pools are advised to use earplugs, which are important to regularly treat with boiling water or solutions of special antiseptics.


No one in the world has yet managed to develop a full-fledged hearing organ prosthesis, so it is extremely important to take good care of the gift that nature has provided to each of us.

What to do to avoid ear diseases?

  • Be sure to wear a hat, scarf or hood in cold and rainy weather.
  • Do not use matches, pencils, paper clips, cotton swabs or any other objects to clean the ear canal from earwax, this will only increase its production, seal the plug of the eardrum and make it difficult for the outer ear to cleanse itself naturally.In addition, you risk damaging your ear canal and membrane. If necessary, contact the ENT with this problem.
  • If your work or hobby involves loud sounds or music, be sure to wear special soundproofing headphones or earplugs.
  • Do not ignore acute and chronic diseases of the nasopharynx and throat – they can spread to the ears. When treating, rely primarily on the recommendations of a doctor, and not on the methods of traditional medicine.
  • Visit your otorhinolaryngologist regularly for preventive examinations: he will be able to notice any changes in the condition of the ears in the early stages.

What to do if it shoots in the ear

Shooting pain in the ear is a short phenomenon, but due to its intensity it is memorable. And it is right. The fact is that lumbago is not necessarily associated with the ear. They can be symptoms of many extremely unpleasant diseases. With severe pain, the body draws your attention to a possible danger.

Why it shoots in the ear

There can be many reasons for a sharp short pain that appears at first glance in the ear.

1.Ear plug

A wax plug or foreign object in the ear canal may press against the eardrum. This is caught by the nerve endings that surround the middle and inner ear in abundance, and you feel a shooting pain.

2. Acoustic trauma

A powerful sound attack – for example, at a rock concert, in a nightclub, at a fireworks show or in noisy production – can cause barotrauma: a stretching or even ruptured eardrum. Ear pain is a frequent companion of such lesions.

3. Incipient otitis media

Shooting pain in the ear is a common symptom of ear infection , such as otitis media. This unpleasant disease is fraught with hearing loss and the development of serious complications. Therefore, at the slightest suspicion of otitis media, you should immediately consult a doctor. Especially when it comes to babies up to two years old.

4. Tooth decay, dental abscess or gum disease

The medical journal WebMD lists oral problems as one of the possible causes of ear pain.The fact is that the nerve endings in the head are closely related to each other and the pain felt in one area (for example, in an inflamed tooth root) is often projected somewhere else.

5. Inflammatory processes in the nasopharynx

Angina, pharyngitis, tonsillitis often also echo with lumbago in the ears. The reason is the same as in the paragraph above: the close interconnection of nerve endings.

6. Neuralgia

Damage to the facial nerve or nasopharyngeal nerve , caused, for example, by hypothermia, makes itself felt, including ear pains.

When to see a doctor

The above is not a complete list of reasons for shooting in the ear. In some cases, the start of pain is given by:

  1. Inflammation of the scalp after an unsuccessful piercing.
  2. Arthritis or injury to the jaw joint.
  3. Brain inflammation – meningitis.
  4. All kinds of intracranial tumors.

These diseases can be extremely dangerous. Therefore, if the ear is shooting for more than 24 hours, you need to visit the lore as soon as possible.Other symptoms that require an urgent visit to the doctor are :

  1. The appearance of dizziness, headache, swelling around the ear, weakness of the facial muscles.
  2. High temperature (a sign of a developing inflammatory process).
  3. Sharp, prolonged ear pain that suddenly stops (this may be a symptom of a ruptured eardrum).

How to reduce pain immediately

If you are sure that the pain is not caused by dangerous causes

For example, water getting into your ear while bathing or, for example, a pressure drop during an air flight.

1. Chew gum or eat lollipop

Using the jaw joint will help to equalize the pressure in the ear canal.

2. Swallow several times or yawn widely.

Doing this will also make the jaw joint work, which will help equalize the pressure.

3. Drip ear drops from plugs or liquid oil

Pharmacy drops from corks contain substances that help to soften and remove the sulfur plug (for example, allantoin).Camphor or liquid paraffin heated in a water bath to body temperature has the same sulfur-softening effect.

Pharmacy drops use in accordance with the instructions. Instill 2-3 drops of oil (repeat if necessary after 6-8 hours).

4. Use anti-inflammatory ear drops, peroxide or alcohol solutions

These will help if the pain is caused by an infection in the ear canal. This happens, for example, while swimming in an open reservoir or if there are tiny wounds and scratches in the ear canal.This ear pain is usually not accompanied by a fever.

The pharmaceutical drops contain analgesics and antiseptics (for example, lidocaine and phenazone), which relieve pain and fight inflammation.

Hydrogen peroxide or alcohol solutions have a similar antiseptic effect: tinctures of calendula, chamomile. If none of the above means are at hand, you can use vodka.

Pharmacy drops use according to the instructions. Instill 2-3 drops of peroxide and alcohol solutions.If necessary, the procedure can be repeated after 6-8 hours.

5. Try drying your ear with a hairdryer.

This will help remove excess moisture that may be blocking your ear canal. Naturally, the hair dryer should be set to a comfortable thermal mode.

If you have no idea about the causes of pain

In this case, your goal is simply to alleviate the condition before going to the doctor.

1. Apply a cold compress to the ear.

For about 20 minutes , until pain is relieved.But it is categorically not recommended to put a hot compress: it can accelerate the development of inflammation and a purulent process, if any.

2. Take pain reliever

For example, ibuprofen.

3. Chew vigorously

Chewing can relieve pain caused by excessive pressure in the middle ear from otitis media.

And do not hesitate to visit the otolaryngologist. At best, your doctor will simply flush your ear canal. But it is possible that antibiotics or even surgery will be required to get rid of the pain.

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Parotid fistula: what is the danger of an additional canal in the ear

Parotid fistula is a rather unpredictable disease. In some cases, the anomaly may not bother a person throughout his life, and sometimes makes itself felt immediately after birth and threatens with severe complications.Alexander Mikhailovich Ivanenko, an otorhinolaryngologist at the Morozov Children’s Hospital with 25 years of experience in treating the disease, Ph. D.

How does the anomaly manifest itself?

Externally, the parotid fistula looks like a barely noticeable point at the curl of the auricle. With an atypical location, the mouth can be located anywhere in the auricle, including the lobe.But this is very rare. The fistula itself is an additional skin-covered passage measuring 1.5-2 cm in length, which has a sinuous structure. Sometimes the fistula bifurcates or ends in a thick cystic expansion. It can be formed both in one ear and in two at the same time.

What are the causes of the disease?

Congenital parotid fistulas are the most common external ear anomaly. Occurs in 15 – 43 children per 100,000, depending on the region.In 30%, the disease is hereditary, in 70% it is sporadic, that is, it occurs from time to time. The appearance of a fistula is associated with abnormalities in the development of the fetus. The defect is formed at 9-11 weeks of intrauterine development. At this time, six ear tubercles are formed from I and II branchial arches, from which the structures of the auricle subsequently develop. Pathological processes during pregnancy (stress, respiratory diseases) lead to the occurrence of a defect.

Why is a parotid fistula dangerous?

The canal of the fistula is lined with skin containing sweat and sebaceous glands, therefore, the contents of a yellow-curdled consistency are accumulated and periodically released in it.When a bacterial infection is attached, an inflammatory process develops that spreads to soft tissues. Huge pyogenic ulcers are formed on the skin, reaching 5 cm in diameter. A cosmetic defect significantly reduces the child’s quality of life. If the cartilage of the auricle is included in the inflammatory process, perichondritis occurs, which leads to deformation of the auricles.

Sometimes, a congenital anomaly is misdiagnosed, mistaking it for other diseases: atopic dermatitis, eczema, osteomyelitis, skin tuberculosis and even systemic lupus erythematosus. Children often come to us after a long but ineffective treatment.

Can parents independently detect a parotid fistula in a child?

This is possible in most cases. It is necessary to carefully examine the child and understand whether he has a small hole at the base of the ear curl or not. If there is a hole, but it looks like a small puncture of a needle and does not bother the child, do not worry. The fistula is not dangerous and does not need to be removed.If the mouth turns red, a secret is released from the hole, discomfort or pain appears – it is necessary to treat the mouth with a solution of chlorhexidine and consult an otorhinolaryngologist.

How is congenital anomaly treated?

As a rule, patients come to us for the first time with an exacerbation of the disease. We treat the abscess and prescribe elective fistula excision surgery. Surgical removal is performed only in the cold period, that is, not in the active phase of inflammation. Otherwise, complications may arise.It takes about one and a half months to restore the skin after removing the inflammatory process.

There is no age limit for the intervention. Our youngest patient was only three months old. Since birth, his fistula has inflamed twice.

How is the operation going?

The point of surgical treatment is to completely remove the entire fistulous tract. However, the surrounding tissue cannot be damaged. The method based on the property of diaphanoscopy helps to recognize and highlight the pathological zone.My colleagues and I developed and patented the method several years ago, and we are successfully applying it in practice.

During the operation, a sterile light guide catheter with a diameter of 0.75 mm is inserted through the mouth into the fistula canal. The catheter lights up and we accurately assess the length, shape and direction of the fistula, the presence of possible branches. Then we gradually isolate the fistula from the surrounding tissues. The operation lasts from 40 minutes to an hour. This is a low-traumatic intervention. Previously, children after surgery spent 7-10 days in the hospital, and now they are discharged for 3-4 days.There is no need to remove the stitches – we use absorbable suture material. If the child has a bilateral fistula, we simultaneously remove the pathology from both sides.

Every year we carry out from 20 to 30 such operations. Over the years, vast experience has been accumulated in the effective surgical treatment of congenital anomalies.

90,000 symptoms, treatment 🦷 Dnipro Amel Dental Clinic

The disease seems to be not dangerous and almost every parent had to face it. However, behind the mask of invisible ailments lies the source of serious complications associated with the auditory organ and the central nervous system.Most often this affects the youngest children – those who attend nurseries and kindergartens.

How to recognize an ear infection in yourself or your child? How should we treat them? Is there an alternative home therapy that will be equally effective? Let’s find out in this article.

Ear infections are much more common in children than in adults. This is due to the immaturity of the immune system, more frequent upper respiratory tract infections, contact with other babies, and anatomical factors that make it easier for bacteria to pass from the throat to the ear.It is these microorganisms that are the main causes of acute otitis media.


Symptoms of otitis media can be different, and if one of them is found, then you should use the services of an ENT, and not self-medicate. The type of disease that appears depends on many factors such as etiology, age, and anatomical predisposition.

First of all, pain is typical for children. You may experience pulsating sensations in the ear or surrounding area (temples and mastoid, part of the temporal bone).

When is soreness usually present? At night or during rest, that is, when the recumbent position is taken. Older children suffering from otitis media can independently report concomitant ailments, while babies will simply cry in pain.

In adults, throbbing pain also appears quite often. Most children with inflammation in the middle ear also have a fever, the temperature is usually quite high, most often it exceeds 38-39 degrees Celsius.

Crying babies may seem hot – but this is not the main symptom of otitis media. It is worth reassuring the baby and only then taking measurements.


  • noise, pulsation – common symptoms resulting from inflamed vascular changes in the ear;
  • A sick child, of course, will not sleep well at night, and during the day he can be very agitated, irritated and tired;
  • Lack of appetite is another alarming symptom, completely vague when it comes to otitis media, but it should always make parents alert;
  • vomiting in a baby is a frequent signal of problems in the middle of the organ of hearing;
  • Ear rubbing is often aimed at reducing discomfort, so children with inflammation will be overly active in this area;
  • Hearing loss, feeling of blockage, foreign body and fullness are symptoms affecting both young and elderly patients;
  • Ear discharge.

Frequent pain relief after cleansing is common. The discharge disappears, and the drop in pressure in the middle cavity brings relief from pain. It is also worth looking into whether you have had an upper respiratory or throat infection recently. The most common way of spreading causative agents for acute otitis media is the Eustachian tube, which connects the throat to the center of the ear.

Sometimes the disease can be accompanied by skin rashes covering the auricle: vesicles, spots, purulent lesions.If we notice the secretion of secretions from the ear canal for a long time, but there are no signs of pain after that, then such inflammation, unfortunately, can become chronic.

Otoscopic examination

An ENT or general practitioner, looking into the ear with a special viewing glass – an otoscope, will notice typical signs of inflammation, that is, dilated vessels that give the impression of redness of the tympanic membrane.

Most often, this picture indicates the initial stage of infection. In the advanced phase, the membrane will be clearly convex, due to the pressure of secretions from its inner side. You can see a crack inside or a leak of purulent contents – this, unfortunately, indicates an advanced stage.

Treatment regimens

First question: is any therapy worth using at all, and if so, when should we do it? Otitis media often goes away on its own and there is no need to start antibiotic therapy.

However, we can use other drugs that act symptomatically to reduce the accompanying inflammation.The so-called “vigilant observation” technique is currently in use. The disease should resolve without treatment within 1 to 2 days of the onset of symptoms.

Symptom relief

This is definitely the most commonly used treatment. We refuse antibiotic therapy and fight fever, pain, using two main substances – ibuprofen and paracetamol in oral form.


Treatment depends, of course, on the etiology. Antibiotic therapy will become the basis of bacterial infection.For acute otitis media, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae are common pathogens – therefore we treat empirically, assuming that each patient’s illness is caused by one of these bacteria.

Amoxicillin, which is administered in high doses, is a popular drug in the medical environment. Alternatively, amoxicillin in combination with clavulanic acid or clarithromycin in intravenous or intramuscular form may be used in the absence of improvement or hypersensitivity to penicillin drugs.

Antibiotic therapy will be included in the severe course of the disease, high fever and vomiting in all children who have factors predisposing to the development of the disease and its frequent relapses: in children under 6 months of age due to the immaturity of the immune system and inability to cope with infection, in children under 2 years of age with inflammation in both ears.

Otitis media appears among other diagnoses. Its symptoms are ear pain, irritability, and high fever.

Interesting fact


Complex carbohydrates, hot liquids, vegetables and soups prepared with these products are an ally in the fight against pathological conditions of the hearing organs. Also allowed are substances with antibacterial activity, natural antibiotics: garlic, onions, ginger. It is important to drink plenty of water to facilitate the outflow of pathogen colonies that colonize the mouth or throat.


Two things are needed to make them: an anesthetic substance that simultaneously destroys the etiological factor, and a thin scarf, gauze to wrap him / her and attach to the patient’s ear.

Organic ingredients will also help: chamomile, ginger, onion or garlic. Onions, ginger and garlic should be peeled and then minced. Then wrap the ingredient in gauze or a thin scarf, heat it to a temperature of about 37 degrees Celsius and then place it on the auricle. It is worth putting a cap on your head, which increases the surface of the compress. It should remain on the body for about an hour. Instead of onions or garlic, cheesecloth can be filled with dried chamomile. However, such a compress must be placed in a closed vessel over a water bath in order to warm it up significantly and make it moist.This composition should be kept in the ear area for about 45 minutes – 1 hour.


It can be prepared on the basis of oil with or without the addition of an antibacterial agent (ginger, garlic). The result will be a consistency that will allow you to deliver a few drops to the patient’s ear. It is best to warm up the medicine before serving. However, it is important to check the temperature of the solution on the back of the hand before use.

Another way is to use a cotton swab soaked in the compound, which should be placed in your ear.Tea tree oil is also known for its excellent properties when applied directly to the ear or onto a cotton pad.


In a mortar, we can grind cloves of garlic or onions, squeeze the pulp through cheesecloth, and then apply a few drops of juice to the ear affected by inflammation.