Ear pain: Is this related to my migraine or not?
Last year I wrote a blog post that was really helpful to me and to my loved ones who want to understand what it’s like to have frequent migraine attacks. (Many of you read the blog post and said it resonated with you—thank you for that. You can read the original post here.)
Researchers and doctors (and, through initiatives like migraine.com, patients, too) know a heck of a lot about migraine—WAY more than the world knew even five or ten years ago. For this I am grateful. That said, migraine disease is one of the most under-researched illnesses out there, especially considering its prevalence and effect on people’s quality of life and productivity. We understand a lot about the illness, but it remains strange and quirky, and it manifests differently in every patient. (This is why some people don’t even get a headache along with their migraine attacks and why no set of migraine triggers matches another.)
In the early days of my blog (back when I was writing anonymously and only for myself, never thinking anyone would read my writing), I would occasionally write about something strange I was experiencing, wondering aloud if it was related to migraine or not. As more and more people started reading the blog, I began hearing from other migraine sufferers. “Hey, that weird thing happens to me, too,” they’d write, and I began to feel less alone. Now there’s a LOT more information out there in books and online, so I don’t feel quite so crazy when I experience an atypical symptom.
I have found a little bit of information out there about ear pain or discomfort, but I have never been diagnosed with vestibular migraine, the type of migraine most often associated with ear pain/fullness.
For my entire life, my ears have started to hurt if I’m outside when it’s approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. My friends used to find this odd but are used to it now. (I end up having to warm my ears up with the palms of my hand if I don’t have a hat handy.)
In the last few years, I’ve had new symptoms related to my ears. Most notable is the discomfort (not quite pain, but close) and sense of stuffiness I feel in my ears when I exercise for more than 20 minutes or so when it’s warm outside. Just this afternoon I went for a 45-minute walk, and about 20 minutes into the walk, I felt this sudden onset of discomfort in my head, centered inside and near each of my ears. I can’t really describe the feeling too well, but it’s not like the pain I feel in my ears when it’s cold outside.
It should be noted that I did not have a migraine at all today (or in the two days before this walk), and I don’t feel as if I’m getting one now, so I think this pain wasn’t the beginning of an episode.
Has anyone else had this kind of ear discomfort? Do you think it’s connected to migraine? Help me out, hive mind, and definitely speak up if you have had this sort of pain/discomfort before.
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