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For the past year or so I have been getting ear pain every night if I lay on my side. I wake and can feel that my ear aches slightly and when I move off the pillow the pain becomes severe and sharp before subsiding. I have been to the Drs twice but his only suggestion was to not sleep on that side! He did say recently that my ear looked congested but that as I am now pregnant he does not want to give me anything for it.

However, being pregnant I cant sleep on my back and now I have started to get the pain in the other ear too. It feels like the pain is in the cartalige rather than inside the ear and my ears will often feel hot. They are beginning to get achy during the day now but the pain is definitely caused when I lay on them.

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i've had the same thing for years, on and off. i'm just now looking online to see what it is... it wakes me up once or twice a night, several times a week, but usually i forget about it by morning. some sites say it's from sleeping with your mouth open, others say you need a toothguard, but the one that made the most sense simply said the pain is caused by pressure on an especially sensitive part of the ear and there's really no solution except to try another pillow or sleep with only the top of your head on the pillow... not much help...
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I have the same problem when I sleep. I get it in both ears. sometimes when one side I have been sleeping on hurts, I turn over and wake up with the other side hurting too. my pain is definitely in the outer part of the ear and doesn't seem to have anything to do with the ear canal. it feels like I slept on a very hard floor, with all of my weight on my ear. This started over 2 years ago for me, and since then I have had many health issues, most of them recently. I am having hormone issues and in particular I am low in progesterone. My dr, who is a female and has similar problems, also mentioned having this ear pain. so I just wonder if it has to do with hormones. I am learning that many of my recent small problems (skin infections and such) are related to my hormone levels. I have suspicions that this ear thing could be related to my low progesterone, but that is a wild guess. if you are pregnant, I would highly recommend getting your progesterone levels checked, because low progesterone could cause a miscarraige, or at least be a sign of it. Make sure your levels are at least above 20, in your first trimester. I realized the other day that my sleeping ear pains may have started when I got off of birth control pills, but I can't remember for sure. Also, I have had lots of inner ear troubles growing up (ear infections and tubes, now some loss of hearing), but I really feel those are unrelated.
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ry sleeping witht he edge of a blanket tucked under your chin and cheek. It slightly elevates the ear and eases the pressures and pain.
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~laughs~
It made me join so I could post, but posted my post anyways.

I do find that the above helps. It began for me when I was pregnant, that and some congested sinuses towards the end of the day. I imagine the two combined make for some bad pressures in the ear canal.
I read somewhere else that if you were crafty you could try and build some sort of support device out of foam for around your ear to make it so your ear does not rest directly upon the pillow.
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I have had this problem for years and thought it was caused by having Fibromyaliga. I find putting 2 pillows side by side helps as I put me ear in the space between the two so there is not so much pressure on my ear.
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I have had the same problem for years. I resorted to buying a thick piece of foam and cutting two ear holes in it - and I lay it on top of my pillow at night. It helps but I've been looking for something more effective. I just did a google search (ear pain prevention pillow) tonight and found this therapeutic pillow online - http://www.sleepposture.com/index.php. The pillow is described as follows "People that wake up with ear pain, caused by the folding of the outer ear while sleeping is more common than you may think. The SleepPosture™ pillow has a unique patented ear well so that the outer ear can remain suspended while sleeping and preventing painful ear pain." I found some other pillows but this one looked the best to me. I'm ordering one tonight. My mom suffers from the same problem but I've never of heard of anyone else experiencing it - and my husband thinks I'm crazy with my special foam ear pillow. I'll let you know if it works.
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The ear pressure I've had the last couple of years seems to be the outer area of the ear, the cartilage area aching from the pressure of the weight on my head bearing down on the ear when sleeping and to relieve it, I turn over or sleep on back. My ear will also ache from the pressure of having a phone receiver pressed up against it for too long. I also have it from both ears. I finally brought the pain up to a dermatologist and she diagnosed it as chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis, see
http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic_diseases/cdnh.html.
I found a small foam donut pillow that I either put in the pillow case of my pillow, on top of pillow and put ear in the hole. Or when I travel, I have a small pillow case to cover the donut itself and I just put it directly on top of the pillow I'm sleeping on. Bottom line is my ear is in the hole of the donut pillow so there's no pressure on it. It works and it's given me back my sleep.
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I came across this discussion as I'm online looking for reasons and solutions for the ear pain I experience mostly at night. Mine is primarily on the right side and it occurs when I've been sleeping on my side, I wake up and can feel the aching and burning in the cartilage. I almost hate to turn over because when I do, the pain gets worse before it gets better. It feels like sharp burning pain and then it will subside after a few minutes. Just like the others who have posted, it's the outer ear and doesn't seem to be in the ear canal at all.
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wow...this is funny and I am relieved to know there are other people out there having the same problem. I have been suffering with this exact night time ear pain for over 25 years! But....its always just been in one ear, never both. The pain when trying to lift my head off the pillow was unreal. I use to go to the freezer and drip ice cold water in the ear to numb it. The pain would subside once I was up for 15-20 minutes or so. Ive been to the specialist and all he told me was that I needed a dental guard because I grind my teeth. My dentist said no I did not grind my teeth. The info posted by other readers is very helpful and I am going to try different pillows. Ive been convinced all these years that I have some hidden tumor or something! But Im fine....just have this ear ache at night at least 5 times a week.
Thanks everyone
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I also experience ear pain when I wake up after sleeping on my side. I have had the kind when my ear gets folded and I sleep on it like that for awhile, then when I move my head I notice it and it hurts VERY bad.

However, recently I started noticing a different kind of ear pain, the one that is more in the inner ear and feels like it's probably caused by pressure. I have been reading online and suspect that it's probably because I use q-tips daily to clean my ears, and I've read that it pushes the ear wax deeper in to the ear canal... then combined with the seal that my ear makes with my pillow at night, it probably does cause a painful pressure that hurts when it's released when I wake up. I don't think it has anything to do with hormones, I'm not pregnant, I don't have the pain at any other time, and I don't have any tmj or dental issues... that's the best explanation i can derive.. So I'm going to try to stop using the q-tips and see if that helps.
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I am shocked because for all these years I thought that I was weird for having this problem no one else seemed to know about. I have been having this problem since I was 15 and it has gotten progressively worse. then it was just a few times a week, now its ever night several times a night and the only times I noticed it didnt happen is when Ive had too much to drink or take an asprin before bed (both blood thinners), so i began to think that maybe it was a circulation problem. I am now 34 and the pain is excruciating causing a good nights sleep to be almost impossible. Even when I take precautions to let my ears breath while im asleep, i have to toss and turn so much for other circulation problems during sleep that I end up changing things around and still waking to major pain as I attempt to simply turn over to sleep on my other side. I have brought this problem to doctors several times and they all responded the same saying "thats weird" but never having anything helpful to suggest or to refer me to. One thing Ive noticed here is that many of those who have responded to this have other serious issues going on so here are mines; tremors (since birth), Peripheral nervous disorder in my arms and legs, spinal degenration (some refer to as arthiritus) and as of late muscular issues that are fairly new and are undiagnosed as of yet.
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Guest wrote:

wow...this is funny and I am relieved to know there are other people out there having the same problem. But....its always just been in one ear, never both. The pain when trying to lift my head off the pillow was unreal. The pain would subside once I was up for 15-20 minutes or so.
Thanks everyone



I could have wrote this post!!! This describes me perfectly! I have been to so many different doctors over this and the only diagnosis anyone has come up with is TMJ. After doing tons of reading on TMJ I just didn't think it sounded like a TMJ case. I am SO relieved to have found this thread!
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I am another who thought i was the only person suffering this. I get it on both sides, i totally agree that it hurts more when you first lift your head from the pillow.

However, there must be something causing this - i refuse to believe that freaky-shaped pillows need to be bought. Some doctor somewhere must be looking at this properly.

Having read all the posts in this thread we can safely rule out hormones. The guy a few posts earlier mentioned circulation - i too have poor circulation i think... Anyone else?
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For all of you with ear pain, especially at night... I have suffered with this for 10 years, at first the episodes came twice a year, then every few months and eventually every two weeks. The pain was so intense I didn't know what to do with myself--burning in my ear and sometimes the side and back of my head and neck. It hurt to speak and to chew. No pain killers--even prescription meds did not work. For years I wore a night guard, saw 3 TMJ specialists, ate soft foods, bought lots of pillows and nothing worked and as time went on the problem intensified. Finally I was referred to a neurotologist who is an ear specialist and neurologist. He did a battery of tests: ENG, Rotary Chair, Hearing, Bloods including a 5 hour glucose tolerance test, lipid and metabolic panels and a CT scan of my temporal bones. He found that I have otosclerosis, which is softening of the temporal bones. I also have an area of inner ear bone that is missing over the left balance canal. The blood tests showed thyroid and parathyroid abnormalities. He sent me to an endocrinologist who diagnosed me with Hashimoto's thyroiditis and vitamin d deficiency. The inner ear pain worsens when there are metabolic problems, so treating the thyroid and parathyroid problems helped a great deal. He also put me on a low sugar, carb control diet, much like a diabetic diet. The inner ear is a highly metabolic organ and it is very sensitive to blood sugar levels. I also was told to cut out caffeine and alcohol. In addition to the diet, I am taking Actonel and Didronel along with extra calcium, fluoride and vitamin d supplements to harden and grow back the softened and missing bone. Searching for the right pillow should not be your focus. Find the right specialist who can properly diagnose your problem.
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