Does Headache Always Occur With Ear Pain?

Are you experiencing a headache that comes with ear pain? It is quite a common condition with a complex relationship. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, which we have detailed in this blog below.

Headaches With Ear Pain – Causes

Here are a few reasons why your ears may be hurting, along with a strong headache.

  1. Occipital Neuralgia
    Occipital neuralgia may be the culprit for your sharp, stabbing ear pain with the headache that just won’t budge. In this condition, the occipital nerves become injured or inflamed. This creates pressure and induces irritation that shows up in the form of pain in the head and ears.
  2. Mastoiditis
    This infection involves the mastoid bone present behind the ear, making it hurt. Unlike occipital neuralgia, mastoiditis is seen mostly in children, usually under 2 years. Alongside the headache behind the ear, other symptoms to look out for include:

    • Fever
    • Ear discharge
    • Tiredness or fatigue
    • Temporary hearing loss in the affected ear
  3. TMJ Disorder
    The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) helps jaw movement, and any issues here can lead to headaches and ear pain since it lies in proximity. TMJ disorders can stem from multiple factors such as stress, bruxism (teeth grinding), arthritis, etc. This condition manifests as:

    • Clicking or jaw-popping sounds
    • Ear pain
    • Tinnitus (ringing of ears)
    • Hearing deviation
    • Vertigo
    • The feeling of fullness in the ears
    • Jaw tightness

How Does An Internal Medicine Specialist Help?

Reaching out to an expert on time is crucial to catch and treat the underlying cause of headaches behind your ears. Here’s how they can help:

  1. Occipital Neuralgia: In this condition, doctors usually use medications like muscle relaxants, nerve blockers, and steroid-based injections for relief. In case of severe cases, interventions like nerve decompression or radiofrequency ablation may be considered.
  2. Mastoiditis: Immediate medical care is essential here. While antibiotics are the primary line of treatment, additional interventions, like creating a small hole in the eardrum, may be necessary.
  3. TMJ Disorder: Managing lifestyle and using mouth guards and Botox injections is the way to go, while in extreme cases, surgery might be considered as well.

Managing Headaches and Ear Pain

For those experiencing headaches behind the ears, while you wait for your appointment, follow these steps to ease your discomfort:

  • Set some time aside for some downtime in a calm environment.
  • Use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate pain.
  • Gently massage the neck muscles to ease tension.
  • Applying heat to the back of the neck can provide soothing relief.
  • Engage in stress-relief practices.
  • Seeking acupuncture from a trained specialist.
  • Specific exercises to address TMJ-related symptoms.

Closing Note

A headache coupled with ear pain is not an easy condition to deal with since dealing with the root cause and eradicating it can help it go away forever. In case of questions or queries, get in touch with our trustworthy physician, Dr. Fakhri Kalolwala, MD, a board-certified internal medicine physician who graduated with honors from both the University of Houston immediately at Aqeeq Internal Medicine. Do not hesitate to set up an appointment by dialing (832) 786-8195 to seek our help. You can also drop by our office in Houston, Texas.

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