There are a number of reasons why your ear might hurt when you sleep on it. It can be uncomfortable, it can irritate or scratch the inside of your ear, or it may even result in a mild infection. Once you know what’s causing the pain, you may be able to adjust your sleeping position accordingly so that it no longer irritates the sensitive area. Here are some answers to common questions about ear pain while sleeping on it.
Why Does My Ear Hurt When I Sleep On It?
When you sleep on your ear, there is pressure on the inner ear that causes pain. This is because the eardrum is compressible. As the eardrum heals, it stretches and cushions the pressure. The pressure on the eardrum decreases as you sleep, so it no longer compresses against your eardrum.
What Is The Cause Of My Ear Pain While Sleeping On It?
Blocked Eustachian Tube
The eustachian tube is a passage between the middle ear and the upper throat. It helps equalize pressure in the middle ear with changes in atmospheric pressure, such as during travel or diving. If the eustachian tube is blocked, it cannot open to relieve pressure on the ear drum. The pain is caused by the difference in pressure between your middle ear and your throat.
Ear wax accumulates in the ears and can block fluid from draining out of the middle ear, causing an increase in pressure inside your ears. This can cause pain and may lead to infections if left untreated.
Acute Otitis Media (Ear Infection)
An infection can occur when bacteria or viruses enter through your eardrum and multiply inside your middle ear. This causes inflammation of tissues around your eardrum, which can result in pain when you sleep on it. An acute otitis media may also cause fluid to build up behind your eardrum, which will also cause pain when you sleep on it because of increased pressure inside your ears. The most common symptoms of acute otitis media are pain during swallowing or chewing, fever, difficulty sleeping due to discomfort, irritability, loss of appetite, and/or vomiting. Some children also complain of a popping sensation while swallowing or chewing food due to incomplete closing of their eustachian tubes during eating (often referred to as “ear-popping”).
Otitis Externa (Swimmer’s Ear)
The outer ear canal is normally filled with air, but when you submerge your head in water, the pressure of the water pushes against the outer ear canal and may force water into your ears. Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear caused by bacteria or fungi that grow in moist, dark areas of your body. The most common symptoms are itching, redness, and swelling of the outer ear canal. If you have a swimmer’s ear, pain may occur when you try to eat or drink.
A perforated eardrum is a hole in the eardrum caused by trauma, infection or pressure from fluid behind the eardrum (such as with a middle ear infection). A perforated eardrum can cause pain when you swallow.
When Is Sleeping On My Ear Most Comfortable?
- I sleep on my side and on my stomach the most. Sleeping on my side gives me the least amount of pain because there is less pressure from the pillow.
- When I am lying flat, I have to keep turning my head because one ear will be more comfortable than the other for a few minutes until it changes, and then it will be the other ear that is more comfortable.
- When I am lying down, if I tilt my head to one side, it feels like someone is squeezing or pressing on my ear to move it out of place. This is uncomfortable and causes pain in that ear.
- Sometimes when I am sitting up in a chair or lying in bed if I lean forward towards the floor or a table, it feels like someone is twisting or pulling on both of my ears at once and this hurts and causes pain in both ears at the same time.
- When I lay down flat with pillows under both of my knees, this pushes up against both of my ears which makes them hurt worse than just laying flat without any pillows under either knee but only under one knee instead of two knees like before when they didn’t hurt as bad as they do now after being pushed up under both knees now that they are being pushed up against by two pillows instead of only by one pillow before when there was only one pillow underneath only one knee instead of two pillows underneath both knees before like now after having them pushed up against
How Can I Treat It When My Ear Hurt?
- I have a hot and cold pack that I put in my freezer for the night and use to apply cold pressure to my ears when they hurt.
- I have a small thin pillow that I can put behind my neck and head when I sleep on my side or on my stomach so that it doesn’t press against the back of one of my ears too much.
- When I am laying down flat, if it hurts, I can tilt my head to one side, then the other side, then both sides to help relieve the pain in each ear by changing which ear is being pressed against by gravity more than the other ear.
- When lying down flat on one side with a pillow under one knee and not under both knees like before when they didn’t hurt as bad as they do now after being pushed up under both knees now that they are being pushed up against two pillows instead of only by one pillow before when there was only one pillow underneath only one knee instead of two pillows underneath both knees before like now after having them pushed up against, if it hurts, then I can tilt my head sideways towards the floor until it stops hurting so badly and feels better again until later on when it hurts again while lying down flat with them pushed up against me again while laying flat with pillows under both of them instead of just one knee like before when there was only one pillow underneath only one knee instead of two pillows underneath both knees before like now after having them pushed up against.
- If I am sitting in a chair, I can lean my head over to one side or the other to relieve the pain in my ears by changing which ear is being pressed against by gravity more than the other ear.
- If I am sitting in a chair, then I can tilt my head sideways towards the floor until it stops hurting so badly and feels better again until later on when it hurts again while sitting in a chair with them pushed up against me later on while sitting in a chair with both of them pushed up against me instead of just one like before when there was only one pillow underneath only one knee instead of two pillows underneath both knees before like now after having them pushed up against.
- Sometimes, if I sit for too long, then it hurts especially if I have been leaning forward because this puts more pressure on your ears if you sit too long.
The pain is caused by pressure being applied to the ear canal and eardrum while sitting. To relieve this discomfort, one may turn their head or tilt it sideways to change which ear is being pressed against by gravity more than the other ear. One may also use pillows to support each knee instead of just one knee so that each knee doesn’t have to be pressed up against anything at all.
What is the pain like?
The pain feels like pressure, but it’s not an intense sharp pressure. It’s a dull, throbbing pressure.
How long does the pain last?
It lasts for about an hour or so, but it can last longer if I am pushing my head forward against gravity for too long and if I don’t stretch out my legs or bend them at the knees when I get up and move around. If I do this then the pain can last for several hours even after I stop pushing my head forward against gravity. If I stretch out my legs and bend my knees when I get up and move around, then the pain only lasts for about an hour or so.
How often does this happen?
It happens at least once a day, but it can happen more than that. Sometimes, it happens every few hours.