Ear numbness


Numbness is a sensory disorder caused by misdirection of information through the nerve. This can mean a tingling sensation (Paraesthesia), a "pins and needles" or a furry feeling. The misdirection of the nerve can result from irritation or damage to the nerve, which can have many causes. Often sensory disorders are also caused by abnormal sensations (Dysesthesia) accompanied.

Causes of numbness around the ear

The causes of numbness in the ear can be varied. On the one hand, there can be a central cause, with the damage to the nerves in the brain. That can in the case

  • a stroke,
  • multiple sclerosis or
  • inflammation occur.

On the other hand, the cause can also have a peripheral or local origin. Inflammations, for example of the nerve, but also local inflammations come into question here as well. Finally, hearing loss is also a possible cause of sensitivity disorders in the ear.

Ear numbness from a cold?

When you have a cold, your nose is often blocked and, in some cases, your sinuses are blocked. Because of this blockage, the middle ear cannot be properly ventilated, which can lead to inflammation. A mild otitis media or irritation of the mucous membranes can lead to discomfort.

You might also be interested in: Therapy for a cold

Numbness of the ear with migraines

Migraines are a type of headache that typically affects one half of the head.
The pain is severe and aggravated by movement, light, and noise. Often times, migraines are accompanied by nausea and vomiting. This type of headache lasts a maximum of 72 hours.

Another special feature is the so-called aura. These are symptoms or neurological failures that precede the headache. These may last for a maximum of one hour and can manifest themselves in the form of visual loss, numbness, for example on the cheek and ear, speech disorders and even paralysis.

In the event that you do not have migraines, the symptoms are unknown or last too long, you should see a doctor immediately.

Also read:

  • Migraine attack
  • Therapy for migraines

Does a stroke cause ear numbness?

A stroke occurs as a result of a sudden circulatory disorder in the brain and, depending on its location, can cause different failures.

A common symptom of a stroke is unilateral paralysis of the face and arm with accompanying sensory disturbances in the form of numbness. Sometimes the leg or language is also affected. Facial involvement is often the case.

Smaller strokes can only cause sensory disorders. If a stroke is suspected, it is very important to see an emergency room immediately, as the therapy can only be given in the first few hours.

You can also find out more at: Signs of a stroke

Ear numbness from otitis media

Otitis media (Otitis media) can occur due to a ventilation disorder in the context of a cold. The affected person often suffers from abnormal sensations in the area of ​​the ear, some of which can pull into the face.

An otitis media causes severe pain and can be accompanied by fever, general feeling of illness, and hearing impairment. In extreme cases, the eardrum can burst after the pain usually subsides. If you suffer from otitis media, you should see a doctor, as antibiotic therapy may be necessary.

Diagnosis of numbness in the ear

In order to make a diagnosis of numbness in the ear, a detailed conversation and a physical examination are necessary. Accompanying symptoms and previous illnesses are important here, as well as a precise description of the symptoms. In the physical examination, the neurology must be examined as well as the ear and possibly a hearing test must be carried out.

Sensory disorders are difficult to test objectively, but one should

  • Emotional,
  • Temperature-,
  • Vibration and
  • Test pain sensation.

Depending on the suspicion, additional tests, such as a blood test or imaging, may be necessary.

Symptoms accompanying numbness around the ear

Accompanying symptoms of a feeling of numbness in the ear can include abnormal sensations and pain. In the case of shingles, blisters and reddening follow, which are sometimes limited to the ear canal and can therefore be easily overlooked.

In the case of local inflammation, signs of inflammation such as redness, swelling and pain may occur. With otitis media, a purulent discharge can also come from the ear.

Tinnitus or noise in the ear

Tinnitus is an auditory perception or noise in the ear that can manifest itself as hissing, humming, beeping or ringing. This noise is only perceived by the person affected (subjective tinnitus).

Nevertheless, there is also the rare objective tinnitus, the cause of which can be found in the vessels or muscles.

There are numerous possible causes of subjective tinnitus:

  • Inflammation in the middle ear,
  • Ear canal occlusions,
  • Damage to the hearing organ from a loud sound or bang and
  • several systemic diseases.
  • Medicines such as aminoglycosides or loop diuretics can also be toxic to the inner ear and cause tinnitus.

However, if the ear is normal, then sometimes you cannot find a cause.

Find out more at: Ringing in the ears

Numbness of the ear and cheek

Sensitivity disorders in the area of ​​the ear and cheek can occur due to reactivation of the chickenpox virus, the so-called varicella zoster or shingles. This can lead to abnormal sensations, which are usually followed by severe pain, blisters and redness. You should see a doctor immediately.

Sensory disorders of the cheek can also be an early symptom of facial paralysis (peripheral facial paralysis). Some patients report numbness and abnormal sensations a few days before the paralysis appears. In this case, too, a medical consultation is necessary.

Read on below: Shingles on the face

Treatment for numbness around the ear

Treatment for numbness in the ear depends on the cause.

If you are known to have multiple sclerosis, the symptoms of numbness in the ear can be relieved by administering cortisone.

Learn more at: Therapy of multiple sclerosis

Even if the doctor has identified another illness as the cause of the numbness in the ear, therapy is primarily geared towards the underlying illness, such as stroke, cold or otitis media, migraines and shingles.

also read:

  • Treatment of otitis media
  • Therapy of shingles
  • Treat stroke

With objective tinnitus, one has to locate the source of the sound. These can then be removed microsurgically or by radiation. In treating subjective tinnitus, we differentiate between those who have a recognizable cause and those who have none. If the cause is a disease of the ear canal or middle ear, surgical intervention can be helpful here too.

Physiotherapeutic or dental treatment is recommended for disorders of the spine or the temporomandibular joint.

In the case of a systemic disease, such as high blood pressure, thyroid dysfunction or neurological diseases, drug therapy can be tried. If the cause is unclear, the tinnitus should be treated like a sudden hearing loss, i.e. with cortisone therapy.

How long does the ear numbness last?

Since there are many different causes of numbness, no general statement can be made about the duration. When the doctor has made the diagnosis, he usually explains the duration of the symptoms and when an improvement can be expected.

With otitis media, the symptoms often improve spontaneously within the first 24 hours. Otherwise, the otitis media typically lasts about a week.
The common cold also lasts between a week and 10 days.

The shingles can last 2-4 weeks. The sensitivity disturbance only shows up after the initial stage, i.e. the duration is shortened.

A migraine attack usually does not last longer than 3 days, accordingly the numbness should subside after this time.

In the case of a stroke, the duration of the complaint depends on the patient's basic condition and the affected brain area. However, permanent damage can occur.

Very often the tinnitus only lasts two to three days. If this is not the case, then therapy must be initiated and the symptoms may go away over the next three months. If the tinnitus lasts longer, then it has passed into a chronic form.

Prognosis for numbness around the ear

Just like the therapy and duration, the prognosis for numbness in the ear depends on the triggering cause.

While a cold and otitis media are common diseases that usually heal without any problems, stroke and chronic tinnitus have a poorer prognosis.

Migraines and shingles can recur. While shingles is dependent on the state of the immune system, certain triggers trigger a migraine attack. However, it does not always have to lead to numbness.

Recommendations from the editorial team

You might also be interested in the following topics:

  • Numbness
  • Numbness of the face
  • Numbness of the head
  • stroke
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Shingles on the face