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Dr. Andrew Rynne
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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

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My son is experiencing partial ear ache similar to swimmer's

Answered by
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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3129 Questions

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Posted on Fri, 5 Apr 2019 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Question: My son is experiencing partial ear ache similar to swimmer's ear and numbness in and out on the left side behind his ear. No fever. Started last night. Not constant though.
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Possible otitis externa

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

Is your son 29,or are you the 29 yr old and you son is a child?

Pain in the ear canal and pain when the ear is tugged on is usually due to otitis externa, or outer ear infection. Swimmer's ear is an otitis externa.

The good thing about the ear is that it is easy to look at and into, and so it is easy to diagnose an external ear infection. Usually the canal is involved and can swell up. We treat this with antibiotic drops that also contain a steroid to decrease swelling.

However, it's possible that a nerve that goes to this region is affected and this can also be checked out by assessing numbness in the distribution of different nerves.

So, as this doesn't seem to be going away, I recommend he go in to be seen either by his own doctor if he can get in to see him/her soon, or go to urgent care. If he goes to urgent care, be sure to request a real physician as many are staffed with PAs and NPs now, and his problem may need a more thorough evaluation than they are trained to offer.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vaishalee Punj
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Follow up: Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 31 minutes later
It's my son who is 29. The numbness is my concern. But, it's not constant. Here and there that he is experiencing. Thoughts?
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 34 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Thoughts on this

Detailed Answer:
The numbness can be due to a problem with a sensory nerve from some type of blow or irritation to it. But it can also be related to infection as I described above.

Less commonly, numbness can be from more remote things such as poorly controlled diabetes, Meniere's disease (but then there is usually hearing loss and other symptoms), and taking too much aspirin or certain antibiotics. In older people, or those at risk due to other causes, a stroke can cause numbness in the ear but that doesn't seem like it applies here.

So - the thing to start with would be an exam of the ear with an otoscope, and a test of the sensory nerves of the region, which the doctor can do with a light brush.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vaishalee Punj
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