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Ear/jaw/teeth pain for several weeks now
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DKCarolina posted:
I have been having ear, jaw and teeth pain for several weeks now. It only affects my left ear and left side of my jaw, and no particular tooth- mostly the left side top and bottom, but sometimes my molars on the right. I have been managing the pain with Advil and Tylenol, and have had to keep alternating to not exceed the recommended daily doses. This weekend I went to the clinic and the PA checked for an ear infection and did not think I have one. He checked for swollen lymph nodes and didn't find anything. He gave me a pain prescription which I'm not taking (8 Vicodin pills, would only help for a few days), and some ear drops that say Antipyrine&Benzocaine Otic. They have helped some with the pain, but not enough to quit the pain killers.

He referred me to an ENT doc, but I have no insurance and won't be able to go anytime soon. I've been wearing a night guard for a couple weeks now, because my wife who was a dental assistant for many years thought my symptoms might be from grinding/clenching my teeth. I can't say that it has helped. The pain doesn't seem to be getting any worse which she feels if I had an infected tooth or something like that, I would know it by now. It isn't getting better either though, and I'm having to be careful to not get nauseous from too much over the counter pain meds.

Other history stuff, I'm 42 years old, non-smoker or drinker, I take Prilosec daily which was recommended by an ENT guy quite a few years ago, I went to him with throat irritation issues from constantly clearing my throat, and he said I do have acid reflux. I had fusion surgery about 3 years ago, they did C-5, 6 and 7 and it has been a really big help for many years of chronic neck pain. I have had more than average dental work, but I have good dental hygiene and have had no significant issues in the last number of years. I have had mild to moderate tinnitus off and on for years, but not ever bad enough to be more than annoying. Thank you and please let me know if you need additional information.
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD responded:
You provided plenty of information. The only thing I am missing, of course, is the ability to examine you first-hand. The Internet poses some significant barriers as you know.

There are numerous causes of OTALGIA (ear pain), from direct ear pain (infections, etc.) to referred ear pain -- this is ear pain caused by a problem in another area. TMJ disorders, dental abscesses (even those that are not obvious), reflux, salivary gland problems, throat problems, sinusitis, lymph node issues, etc. ALL can cause pain to be referred to the ear. The fact that you have tinnitus, does seem to point to the ear, but even tinnitus can have central causes (brain).

I don't think you can rule out dental issues or TMJ problems just yet. The fact that the numbing eardrops seem to help, points to the ear canal as a possible source, or even the middle ear. Again, the exam will sort these out.

I am sorry that medical care is so expensive, but if you broke you arm or feel and sustained a big cut on your face, you would have to bite the bullet and get care. Do what you can, but I don't think you can solve this issue without seeing an ENT...eventually, if your symptoms continue.


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