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External part of ear feels numb. No hearing loss. Reason?

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my left ear has been numb for 48hrs.seems to be no pain or swelling . I thought originally it was just the way I slept on it. the whole external part of the ear is numb seems to be no hearing loss.
Posted Tue, 22 May 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 46 minutes later

Thank you for your query.

1. The sensory nerve supply of the external ear id derived from multiple nerves and sources:
a. The AuriculoTemporal Nerve (branch of the Trigeminal / Cranial Nerve V): to the Tragus, Crus of the Helix & adjacent part of Helix.
b. The Lesser Occipital Nerve (C2) to the upper 1/3 of the medial surface.
c. The Greater Auricular Nerve (C2, C3) to the posterior part of the lateral and most(lower 2/3rd) of the medial surfaces.
d. Arnold's Nerve (Auricular branch of Vagus / Cranial Nerve X) to the area around the Concha at the External Meatus & corresponding area on medial surface.
e. Facial / Cranial Nerve VII : Minor branches along with Arnold's nerve, supplies Concha & Retro-auricular groove.

2. Thus the chances of the entire pinna being numb are remote. You should get a neurologist or ENT Specialist to examine your left ear in detail. They can check the specific dermatomes to arrive at a diagnosis.

3. All the abovementioned nerves supply other areas of the face and neck and there is bound to be involvement of other areas Abnormal referred sensations from areas such as the tongue, teeth, mouth and throat may be involved.

4. Rarely, exposure to extreme cold, parotid salivary gland swellings, lymph node swellings may compress nerves, causing numbness.

5. Since your hearing is normal there is no cause for worry. Ear numbness is not serious, however lack of sensation of the external ear puts you at the risk of inadvertent pinna injuries. Get a PTA (Pure Tone Audiogram) done.

I hope I have answered your query. If you have any further questions I will be available to answer them.

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