What can be done for severe ear pain?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 08, 2009
A fellow caregiver asked...

How can I get treatment for severe ear pain? I am a 40 year old woman. I have had type 1 diabetes for 13 years. For the past 8 years I have had chronic ear pain and infections where I am usually given an antibiotic and it goes away after a two or three day stint. The past few years my ear pain and infections have gotten worse and I have severe ear pain that goes down the side of my neck and into my jaw. I now self-medicate with an extremely large amount of Excedrin to combat the incredible pain, but sometimes that doesn't seem to help. I have become crippled by these ear aches. I have three young children to care for and I walk around with my head tilted to one side resting my hand against the hurting ear and I try not to talk because that seems to worsen the chronic ear pain. HELP!

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

First off, it sounds like you are really suffering.  I wonder if you have been seen by an ENT (ear nose and throat) specialist, as it sounds like your ear pain is severe and needs attention soon.  This specialist can investigate why you get so many ear infections, and work with your diabetes.  Perhaps you need tubes in your ears to help them drain, or you could chronic sinus problems that make your ears plug up. You may want to see your dentist too, as your problem may not be from your ears, but it may be from the jaw. 

One last comment: please watch how much Excedrin you are  taking.  This medication contains aspirin, which can cause bleeding if not taken as directed.  Also, aspirin can cause ringing in the ears, which could make your ear problems worse.