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red/hot ear
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dmttatter posted:
Frequently, one of both of my ears become very hot and SUPER red. It's usually at the end of my work day when I'm rushing to get things done. What causes this? I thought possibly high blood pressure?
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
No, not high blood pressure, but it is "vascular"...

This is a relatively frequent question on the Ear Board. Red, hot ears are interesting phenomena that many people experience. For some unknown reason, warm, oxygen-rich blood is being shunted to your outer ears. This is a variation of simple blushing. Sometimes, people can even experience pain when this happens?not just embarrassment.

If your problem is severe, there are only a few medical options to treat it. Some ENTs use beta-blockers (drugs that are traditionally used to treat high blood pressure, incidentally, and other cardiac problems). Sometimes beta-blockers will help?sometimes they don?t. This is really a harmless condition, so most people elect not to treat it.
 
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eaf5067 responded:
This can be caused when your blood pressure is elevated and is decreasing. This used to happen to me all the time. Doctors ran blood tests, EKG, x-rays and finally told me it was anxiety and gave me Paxil. This was 15 years ago. It was not anxiety in my case.

Then I started to notice that it happened every day around the same time....right after I got home from work. Like you, I was "rushing" around toward the end of my day trying to finish everything in time. If the work day was not as busy, it would happen before I left work. I also noticed that it did NOT happen on weekends or days off.

The stress of rushing around at work causes your body to release adrenaline to cope, thereby raising your blood pressure, increasing your heart rate and causing vasoconstriction. Even if you don't feel "stressed", your body needs to kick it up a notch to keep up the pace. When the "rush" is nearing the peak or is over, the level of adrenaline begins to decrease. Your heart rate begins to slow, you begin to feel less stressed and your blood vessels begin to dilate (vasodilation). This is what causes the red/hot ears in my case, and probably yours as well.

So you may or may not have high blood pressure while resting (mine was always normal). I began to take it throughout the work day. My blood pressure would slowly increase throughout the day, then level off and decrease after the "rush". If I continued to "rush" after work, like running errands on the way home, the red ears would hold off until I got home to relax.

They would last for about an hour or 2. As soon as my blood pressure stabilized and leveled off at 120/80, the red ears would go away fairly quickly. But once they started, there was no stopping them until that point.

I could take a week off of work, and it wouldn't happen once. But the first day back at work brought the red ears back like clockwork at 5:30. I hope this helps someone because this drove me crazy for years, sometimes into a depression. I wouldn't go anywhere after work, not until the "red ears" had come and gone.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to eaf5067's response:
The relationship to "red outer ears" and elevated blood pressure may be present in your case, but his is NOT a universal cause. Most people with red, hot ears do not have any problems with their blood pressure.
 
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Spottie replied to eaf5067's response:
Thank you very much for sharing... It feels like a load has shifted of my shoulders. For the last year or so I have experienced the exact same symptoms and all most stopped having a social life all together.

Running my own business I would sometimes keep busy till late. I could not work out why the redness would only start some time after locking up.
 
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Mikhael53 responded:
If the ear is red and hot only along the top two thirds or so, where the cartilage is located and the tip of the ear or the ear lobe is still close to normal in color, the problem could be Relapsing Polychondritis. This is a very rare autoimmune disease that attacks the cartilage in the body and is not limited to the ear. It can attack the trachea, heart valves, eyes, joints and connective tissue.

This can be a very dangerous disease that is very difficult to diagnose, as only about 3 or so people out of every 1 million ever develop the disease. Mayo Clinic has a good, easy to understand write up about it. If you suspect that this may be your problem, after reading the Mayo and/or other articles, you would do well to contact a Rheumatologist and mention it to him/her. Be sure to bring up the name "Relapsing Polychondritis", as most doctors have never seen this disease. It took me ten years to get diagnosed.


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