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RandomGirl's avatar

Could continual headaches and occasional ear aches be connected?

Asked by RandomGirl (3352 points ) November 18th, 2012

I first got an account here about a month ago, asked a question (see question here), and disappeared quite silently. Poor etiquette, I know.
But anyway…
Well, it’s been a month, and the idea of stress-related issues has been ruled out. I’m still drinking the same amount every day (no worries – I’m not diluting nutrients in my system). I’m also having significant headaches, about which the doctor is worried. He wants to have an MRI done. My family is worried about me, and is trying to figure out if there’s anything less significant we can rule out before doing something so… drastic, I guess you would say, although that’s not the right word.
But anyway… In the last couple of days, I’ve been noticing something else: My ears have also been hurting pretty badly. It seems like these symptoms could be connected, even though it doesn’t make sense. What could this indicate? Is there a problem the doctor may not have thought of before, that the earaches would indicate? Or does this not make any difference?

Thanks for your input, everyone :)

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23 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

MRI is not significant, it is a procedure in a hospital setting with magnetism. It does not cut slice or dice the body. If it is the confined space yhat worries you, ask if you can go to an “open MRI”.

RandomGirl's avatar

@Tropical_Willie We’re not worried about the actual MRI. The reason we want to rule out all other possibilities is that the only thing an MRI would find is cancer (which the doctor talked about a lot – that’s what he’s really worried about). If it’s something else, I’d like to find that as soon as possible. Maybe it’s just that I’m putting off hearing whether or not it’s cancer… Goodness, this is a lot of stress over the simple fact that I’m thirsty. I’m so tired of water and the word “normal”.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Sorry, I am not a doctor nor do I have a crystal ball. Diagnoses need to have detailed review and tests.
I have personally been there and done that 30 years ago.

Still here and the diagnoses was not good.

RandomGirl's avatar

I’m not hoping for a doctor or a crystal ball on Fluther – I’m just looking for someone who may have had these symptoms, or may have heard of them, and have another idea for what to get checked out.

Sorry if that sounded snippy. I’m tired, frustrated, and confused (About more than health concerns – I’m in high school. I have complicated decisions laying in front of me).

hearkat's avatar

Describe the ear pain, please. Sharp stabbing, dull aching, how long does it last? And change in hearing? Dizziness? Noises in the ear(s)? are symptoms equal on both sides or worse on one? Similarly, describe the headaches… pressure, pounding? Where in the head doe you feel it? Is it consistently in one part of the head or do the headaches vary?

gailcalled's avatar

A friend did have similar symptoms and also some tooth issues; she had a small benign meningioma

She had it removed surgically. This was years ago, and she is fine now.

RandomGirl's avatar

@hearkat: I would compare the ear pain to what I had when I was little and had ear infections all the time. Although, I was little, and I don’t remember much from then… So maybe any pain in my ear is equated by my brain. It feels pretty far back into my ear (in other words, it’s not something simple like wax in my outer ear). Sometimes it’s a sharp stabbing pain, but usually just a very present – dull isn’t the right word – ache. It lasts maybe an hour or so. About 4–6 months ago, I was having problems with dizziness, but that’s been alright for a while. No noises in the ears. Symptoms tend to be pretty equal on both sides, although a bit more common on my right side. I noticed them first in my right ear.
The headaches are a constant ache in my neck and the base of my skull, accompanied by sharp stabbing pains at different points at some times, some times it’s just a general ache all over my head… Sometimes it’s toward the front of my head, like in my forehead… Sometimes it’s behind my eyes, sometimes it’s centered around my ears (this is when the earaches are the worst…), and sometimes the same sort of pain even extends down into my jaw. It’s been both a pulsing, throbbing pain, and a pressure thing where my head just feels like it’s going to explode. The worst is the sharp, stabbing pain in the middle of the top of my skull.

Sorry if I started rambling there…. It’s kind of what I do. Drives my friends nuts.
I hope this clarifies things for anyone who might have ideas for me.

Pandora's avatar

Sinuses can cause both. Headaches and ear aches, especially if allergy related. Also a tooth infection, or thyroid problems can also cause such problems.
For me, I find that aspirins can cause a slight throbbing ear ache and a slight headache. I don’t know why that is, so I just don’t take it for too long. I notice it can even make my teeth throb if I take it during my cycle.

The headache may even by caused by something as simple as how you sit behind the computer. My husband use to get the headaches you described and I noticed he would hunch his back as he sat down every time. I kept at him for a while till he would automatically sit up straight in his chair and his headaches went away. If you don’t sit straight you will cause stress on your neck muscles and end up with a headache. If your computer screen is too low then raise it up or lower your chair. Also be aware of how you lay down.

Do you lay down to watch TV with your head on pillows or sit all curled up and your back hunched over or sleep with a lot of pillows? The straighter you keep your back the less stress you cause the muscles on the back of your neck and head.
The average head weighs between 8 to 11 lbs, the weight of a bowling ball. That is a lot of weight to hold forward for an hour in front of the computer or tV.
Morning neck rotations and evening neck rotations may help with the headaches. And if you sleep with a pillow, than try sleeping on your back with none and see if that helps.

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Unbroken's avatar

The only advice i can give, is that doctors can be most helpful when given the most pertinent info to deal with.

Keep a log of how the pain changes: how you experience the pain, what you are doing specifically, do this at specific times say wake up, lunch, after school, before and after dinner, and bed time. Also if you notice a change in the pain write it down. Be a specific as possible, use a rating scale 1 to 10, 10 being highest level of pain. Do this a couple days reread to see if there is a discernible pattern. Bring this with you to the doc along with observations.
Best wishes. I know this is a very scary process.

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lightsourcetrickster's avatar

I think the best advice here is to not think overmuch on the issue and just let the doctor worry about what’s up with you instead of having you and yours worry about it. There is always a second opinion to be gained from another doctor if necessary.
Whilst you may be having significant headaches, trust me you will not help yourself by looking into it yourself. People read stuff almost to death with the things they can discover on the internet in relation to their health – and whilst a little research may be okay, too much can be a very bad thing in terms of mental health. The more you worry about it, the worse it becomes.
As far as headaches and earaches go…I can’t see the connection. I know for a fact that the ears, nose and throat are connected (and there are hospitals specifically catering for just ear, nose and throat related issues), but where the connection is between headache and earache is lost on me. If anything, the only thing I can think of off the top of my head is possible ear infection.

RandomGirl's avatar

@lightsourcetrickster I know, I don’t want to freak myself out about it or anything. I’m trying to kind of just put it aside for a while, but my mom seems to have all but forgotten about it. She asks how I’m feeling, but when I say I have a killer headache, she just gets a worried look on her face and walks away. I’m so tired of this. I wish I could walk away. :/

hearkat's avatar

Tell your mother that your ears ache like they did when you were little, and ask to see an Ear, Nose & Throat Doctor.

I agree with the recommendation to keep a log about your symptoms – and try to jot down as many details as you can from when your symptoms started – including the thirst issue. ENT specialists take care of the mouth and thyroid, too – so I think it would be a good specialty to start with. It would be good to get copies of your prior blood tests so they can review and see if anything’s been overlooked.

Unbroken's avatar

@RandomGirl I think it is a balance. You learn to tolerate ongoing pain on some level, but if you don’t keep on looking or find the answers too scary the problem often tends to multiply. The body has the ability to heal to a degree, but in this case it is not doing it.

Say your worst fears are true and it is cancer, but it is operable at this point, do you really want to just cope and ride along because facing this is the hardest thing you have done and almost prefer not knowing, the end result of that is it grows to something not operable.

That sounds harsh, but it comes from someone who has been there. You are that strong, and if not you will find the strength cause each day is a new day and there is no choice but to keep on going.

Another aspect to consider is psychological aspect of pain, it is real, but as you heal, because you have been in chronic pain for so long, will fight and play games with you. Its hard to describe, you are so used to limiting to things that you think maximize pain.

Maybe they did at one point, that when you are able to start feeling better the memories are still in your brain holding you back.

Some of it will probably be real for instance maybe lactic acid. But essentially causing irrational fear keeping you from living a full life.

So if the MRI fails to turn anything keep looking go to a new doc, go to an ear specialist as suggested, and keep good records. My suggestion get a three ring binder, and have sections lab results, doctors prognosis recommendation, your own observations of symptoms. I tried to do this on a flash drive but i was at a specialists and the docs didn’t want to use their computer.

RandomGirl's avatar

Woke up this morning and began a journal of when/what I eat, how much I’m drinking, and details about the pain (where, how long, rating it from 1–10, although I’m not sure if I’m rating it correctly).
@lightsourcetrickster: It’s not a migraine. No vomiting, diarrhea, flashes of light, none of that.

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RandomGirl's avatar

I never thought I’d be glad to say this, but I am: I need glasses!
This explains the headaches. I have astigmatism in my right eye and my eyes focus at different distances. I’m nearsighted in both eyes, though. We ordered the glasses today, and I should get them next week! I’m counting the days.
I also actually think the thirstiness may subside once the headaches go away. Over the summer, I had trouble with getting dehydrated. I had headaches all the time then, and all I had to do was to drink a bottle of water, and I’d be fine. I think my brain just automatically connected pain in my head to a need for water, and I followed orders!
I hope my theory is correct. Now, to stay focused up close until my glasses come. :D

Thanks for all your contributions!

gailcalled's avatar

^^^What a happy resolution. It never occurred to me because, possibly, it was so obvious.

Did you not notice being able to read street or highway signs at a distance or subtitles on TV or the movies or simply the blackboard at school?

When I entered fourth grade, I immediately knew something was wrong.

You will love the choice of pretty frames, not in existence when I started wearing my glasses at age 8.

RandomGirl's avatar

@gailcalled: I never noticed because my left eye is basically fine. It had taken over for my right eye and my brain just stuck everything together. My vision is fine unless I cover my left eye. But all that work compensating gave me a head ache. I like the frames I got and everything.

gailcalled's avatar

I thought that you said you were nearsighted in both eyes.

RandomGirl's avatar

I am, but hardly in my left. It takes extreme exhaustion to notice it.

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