Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Ear pain when lying on side in bed

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 22 Replies
  • Posted By: MattyMatty
  • October 12, 2008
  • 02:47 PM

I've been to see EN&T doctors and even had an MRI scan but no-one can solve my problem!! For several years I've had pain in my left (inside) ear which comes when lying on my side in bed. It starts as general discomfort (a feeling of 'fullness') and then becomes full-on pain. I even have to 'dig' a hole to support my ear in my pillow! It always means I have to turn over, restricting the positions I can lie in in bed. The doc has checked for ear wax, everything, really. No hearing problems or tinitis. But I do tend to very easily get earache in the same ear when it's cold outside e.g. walking. And if I think about it, there's always a feeling that there's something 'inside' my ear.

Any clues? Would a memory foam pillow help - or would that make matters worse (because unable to 'dig' hole for my ear)?

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22 Replies:

  • Hi I have searched the web and now found somebody with the same or similar problem. I too have see a specialist and nobody is able to find a cause. Also when going to sleep I have to make dent in the pillow for my left ear but I wake up with a pain in the ear and the ear outer canal swells up and almost closes off and itches like mad. After getting up it goes away after say half an hour.. I usually have to sleep on my right side and then there is no problem. This happens every night on my left side over the last two years
    David David 4 Replies
    • October 20, 2008
    • 05:21 AM
    • 0
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  • Hi I have searched the web and now found somebody with the same or similar problem. I too have see a specialist and nobody is able to find a cause. Also when going to sleep I have to make dent in the pillow for my left ear but I wake up with a pain in the ear and the ear outer canal swells up and almost closes off and itches like mad. After getting up it goes away after say half an hour.. I usually have to sleep on my right side and then there is no problem. This happens every night on my left side over the last two years
    David David 4 Replies
    • October 20, 2008
    • 05:27 AM
    • 0
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  • Your problem sounds identical!!! You'd think EN&T specialists would know something about it and be able to DO something about it.
    MattyMatty 1 Replies
    • October 20, 2008
    • 06:58 AM
    • 0
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  • I have the same problem. In both ears. It comes and goes. Sometimes a don't feel a thing, and then it gets bad and keeps waking me up.
    Felsen 510 Replies
    • October 20, 2008
    • 05:15 PM
    • 0
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  • Hi I have had some help recently and have slept on my left side without the problem of pain in the ear. This was due to a much harder thinner pillow (on top of a normal one). Synthetic content - not feathers. I shall keep on with this and report back best regards David
    David David 4 Replies
    • November 21, 2008
    • 11:28 AM
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  • I have no cell phone, but my ears hurt.
    Felsen 510 Replies
    • November 22, 2008
    • 00:15 AM
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  • I do not use a cell phone on my left ear where the pain was a problem. Not helpful in this case. Regards
    David David 4 Replies
    • November 24, 2008
    • 07:33 AM
    • 0
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  • Ear pain can come from a number of sources not just from the ear itself. Most common referred sites are from the TMJ (jaw joint) ot teeth. Both of which will have pressure applied to them when lying on that side. As for pain when out in the cold this sounds like you could have a perforation in your ear drum which although normally heal quickly can persist. However if you have been Seen by ENT they should have been able to spot this.DO you have any pain/discomfort or clicking on opening and closing your mouth or when chewing, if so a Maxillo-facial doc may be able to help.If you have not done so already getting a dentist to check your teeth would also be a good idea. Otalgia (ear pain) can be very difficult to treat in some cases and depressingly a cause can sometimes not be found.Good luck in finding a cure.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • November 24, 2008
    • 01:52 PM
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  • I also have the same problem. Severe pain in my right ear. Starting about an hour after I lie on it. The pain is so intense, it wakes me from my sleep. Never has happened in my left ear, only my right. When I stop lying on it, the pain subsides completely. What is going on here?!?!?!?
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 11, 2010
    • 08:48 AM
    • 0
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  • There is an actual dermatological condition for sore ears. It is called Chondrodermatitis Nodularis Helicis and it means sore in ears.The best solution is to find some memory foam, or harder foam if you don't like memory foam. Lay down on the foam and mark where your ear is comfortable on the foam. Then cut a 2 1/2 - 3 inch hole in the foam. When lying on this foam, your ear will have the pressure taken off of it and it will heal...eventually, it may take months...ears heal very slowly. It cost me $500.00 to get this info from a dermatologist...Or go to "ear pain pillow" on the internet and see the different offerings. The solution for me was to make my own...
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • February 25, 2010
    • 05:59 PM
    • 0
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  • I have the same problem. When I lay on my side in bed, the outer ear on that side begins to hurt after about an hour or so. It happens to both ears. Sometimes when I wake up and the problem is particularly bad the ear will feel tender and slightly swollen for about the next 30 mintues. My dentist suggested that it is related to clenching my teeth while I sleep (apparently ear pain is often a symptom of dental problems), but I doubt this is the full explanation because it only happens to one side at a time.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
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  • I have the same problem. When I lay on my side in bed, the outer ear on that side begins to hurt after about an hour or so. It happens to both ears. Sometimes when I wake up and the problem is particularly bad the ear will feel tender and slightly swollen for about the next 30 mintues. My dentist suggested that it is related to clenching my teeth while I sleep (apparently ear pain is often a symptom of dental problems), but I doubt this is the full explanation because it only happens to one side at a time.I have this problem in my right ear only. It seems dentists try to explain away every problem with clenching and/or grinding. Different dentists have given me that as the reason for tooth pain, ear pain other dental, jaw or tmj issues. I don't grind or clench. I've had my wife verify that. For the ear pain, I like the pillow with the hole idea and will try it.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have this and so do many people, I have found, so no worries. Seems to be caused by the cartilage bending and losing circulation.I found this works: Get a pillow that is super squishy, the kind with the tiny white foam balls in it, like little bean bags and sleep on that. It totally works for me! But, once you find one that works, buy a bunch of the same kind. They work for a couple of years and then the foam breaks down or stretches or something and they stop working. They come in different shapes and sizes so experiment! They have never cost me more than about 7$, so it's a cheap fix!Good luck! Sleep well!This is what I am talking about, but I am not suggesting these, i have found them cheaper:http://www.amazon.com/Cushie-9249-Cushtie-Cushion-Pillow/dp/B0006VSTUQ/ref=pd_sim_k_4
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 19, 2011
    • 04:33 AM
    • 0
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  • I have the same problem. I'm 23 and have had this for a few years now but never had it when I was younger. The pain can be in both ears but is usually in my right ear. I wake up to an intense pain that feels like its deep down in my ear canal. As I lift my head off my pillow it gets much worse...not really sure what that could mean. I feel like finding a suitable pillow is ignoring the problem, something isn't right and from all the message boards I have read on the internet, nothing seems to explain it. Also, it does come and go. I've also tried removing all wax from my ears using the candle stick method but it didn't help, not to mention I don't have much wax anyways. I'm considering going to an ear doctor but after all these posts, it looks like it may be a waste of time and money as no doctor seems to have a clue.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi, I have been looking online for past year and found nothing. So thought I would comment also.I have chronic pain in my right ear only, probably for about the last year. It wakes me up at night (not every night) and yes same I can barely move my head with the pain. feels like I have been thumped in the ear about 10 times that is how bad the pain is. The pain is gone by the morning though, just if I lay on it or even seem to get slight pressure on the ear at night.It seems to get worse around my menstrual cycle. So girls maybe check yours also as maybe progesterone levels have something to do with it?Yes the doctor 'fobbed' me off and have found nothing on here. It does not sound like: Carotidynia or Fibromyaliga, when I have read about themI am in very good health and never suffered with any other ear problem.I did have my lower teeth straighten with an aligner before this happened, but spoke with my dentist and he said that should not have caused anything as only small amount of movement that occurred.Please help, someone must have an idea what is causing this 'chronic pain in ear when sleeping?Thank you
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi I have searched the web and now found somebody with the same or similar problem. I too have see a specialist and nobody is able to find a cause. Also when going to sleep I have to make dent in the pillow for my left ear but I wake up with a pain in the ear and the ear outer canal swells up and almost closes off and itches like mad. After getting up it goes away after say half an hour.. I usually have to sleep on my right side and then there is no problem. This happens every night on my left side over the last two yearsI have exactly the same symthoms was going to go to my GP but dont seem like any use if no one knows the causeof the problem
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I also have the same problem. Severe pain in my right ear. Starting about an hour after I lie on it. The pain is so intense, it wakes me from my sleep. Never has happened in my left ear, only my right. When I stop lying on it, the pain subsides completely. What is going on here?!?!?!?I too have had severe pain in my right ear and have had it off and on now for about 23 years...I've talked to a couple of drs. and I feel that they didn't believe me, and didn't send me for any testing, but, it's getting worse and I have it every night if I sleep on my right side. It's not within the ear, feels more like a cartalidge thing. I've decided to look it up online and found out that there's several people with this problem. From what I've gathered is that perhaps the top of the ear is being folded down during sleep that causes the pain. I did make me a donut pillow yesterday so my ear could fit in the hole and I did sleep better last night..sounds like something we just may have to live with.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • all I can say is "ditto" - I have it in both ears - pain on the outer edge at night or when wearing a headband - which is needed due to pain in inner ear from outside cold (wind). Also have similar pain when swimming.Looking for any ideas . . .I've been to see EN&T doctors and even had an MRI scan but no-one can solve my problem!! For several years I've had pain in my left (inside) ear which comes when lying on my side in bed. It starts as general discomfort (a feeling of 'fullness') and then becomes full-on pain. I even have to 'dig' a hole to support my ear in my pillow! It always means I have to turn over, restricting the positions I can lie in in bed. The doc has checked for ear wax, everything, really. No hearing problems or tinitis. But I do tend to very easily get earache in the same ear when it's cold outside e.g. walking. And if I think about it, there's always a feeling that there's something 'inside' my ear.Any clues? Would a memory foam pillow help - or would that make matters worse (because unable to 'dig' hole for my ear)?
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I too have had severe pain in my right ear and have had it off and on now for about 23 years...I've talked to a couple of drs. and I feel that they didn't believe me, and didn't send me for any testing, but, it's getting worse and I have it every night if I sleep on my right side. It's not within the ear, feels more like a cartalidge thing. I've decided to look it up online and found out that there's several people with this problem. From what I've gathered is that perhaps the top of the ear is being folded down during sleep that causes the pain. I did make me a donut pillow yesterday so my ear could fit in the hole and I did sleep better last night..sounds like something we just may have to live with.I have had a similar problem with my left ear if I sleep on that side. After several years of living with the problem I seem to have fixed it by softening the earwax in that ear using a few drops of olive oil. I can now sleep on my left side again!!It started as an occasional thing several years ago but for the last couple of years I get it every time.It feels like a burning inflammation and I can't bear to have anything touch the ear cartilage. The pain can be extremely severe for about an hour after releasing the pillow pressure and then clearing, or less severe but continuing all day.I've seen my doctor, been to an ENT specialist and discussed it with my dentist. All have had different tentative diagnosies but the same advice: sleep on the other side! - (not a lot of help when you roll over in your sleep!). I recently decided to follow up the clue that I get thicker ear wax in the left ear. Its not enough to affect my hearing, but it is a difference between the problem ear and the other one. In the course of my Google searches I came across the following webpage: http://www.deafnessresearch.org.uk/1887/about-ear-problems/earwax.html .There was no specific mention of my particular condition but there was advice on managing the thicker type of earwax. For the last couple of weeks I have been putting drops of olive oil in my left ear. I started with 2 or 3 drops per day for the 1st 3 days and I am now down to 1 drop every other day. I intend to end up maintaining at 1 drop per ear per week but I'll see how it goes.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • August 19, 2011
    • 03:53 PM
    • 0
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  • I actually registered to answer this question with my own theory which I will be testing. Although, i do rather like this website. I've taken human anatomy and physiology courses and did pretty well in them. I also suffer from chronic internal ear pain when I sleep on my side, one ear more-so than the other. And instead of thinking I automatically came to the internet and assumed I was going to need to have my ear cut off or something. ((Exaggeration))It seems like those of you that have been to doctors and ear specialists have received no bad news, such as an ear infection, but have also not received an answer to your problem. So the problem is logically not your ears. It also seems like most of us that do suffer from this sleep on firm pillows. My theory is that When sleeping on our sides, my theory, is that since we sleep on firm pillows that an air bubble gets trapped inside our ear canals. On top of that, the pain or pressure increasing after prolonged sleeping on that ear comes from the air bubble being heated and expanded inside of your ear. It puts pressure on your ear drum as well as your ear canal. That's why you can turn over, change pillows, or cut a hole in your pillow for your ear and the pain is resolved quickly, or is nonexistent. Now, I don't know why one ear is more likely to have that happen than the other one, but I've tested this on my right ear and can feel the pressure build up as I suffocate and trap the air bubble inside of my ear. I also have a theory about this and a relation to sinus pressure/buildup that I will be testing also. My Solution is that It is not your ear that is the problem! It's your pillow. Your pillow is too firm for your head and your ear structure. So buying a softer pillow or improvising, like cutting a hole in a memory foam pillow, seems to work for those of you that try it. A simple answer is still an answer, and a simple solution is a solution. There isn't anything wrong or defective with your ears, eardrums, ear-canals or so forth. If you want to have ear surgery and are absolutely convinced that your ear is going to fall off, then by all means spend that money. But I think trying a different pillow is a much cheaper and worthwhile solution.
    BrittBear 1 Replies
    • January 23, 2013
    • 07:41 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
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