A sensation of partial numbness or feeling of 'pins and needles' on the skin is known as paresthesia. This is a condition wherein one senses a burning or tingling sensation on the skin. The symptoms may start as slight tingling, and may eventually change to numbness, although there may be a heightened sensation at times. When this sensation is felt in the ears, it is known as 'burning ears'.
The exact cause of paresthesia in the auricular region typically includes physical nerve injury as is seen in nerve entrapments. This leads to pressure on the body of the nerve, which in turn, causes abnormal sensation in this region. Sometimes, there may even be an underlying disease that could lead to burning ears. These diseases attack the nerves like different neuropathies, diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, etc.
Other conditions that can cause paresthesia include cranial nerve trauma, and burns, which may be heat burns, chemical burns, or even sun burns. Extreme cold, when just preceding frostbite, can also lead to ear burning. Other causes include cerebrovascular accidents, peripheral artery disease, etc. Any kind of severe obstruction to the flow of blood to this region can also lead to either muscle spasms or varied sensations in the ear. Even physical injury in the region of the ear may lead to trauma to the auricular nerve, which could cause paresthesia.
Burning ears itself is a symptom, and not a disease. There may be other symptoms that may accompany this condition. These symptoms include:
- Pain in the region of the face. This pain may be confined to that half of the face where the burning sensation is being experienced, or may be felt on both sides.
- Due to the burning sensation, the person may complain of ear pain which could be aggravated when there is a sudden change in the surrounding pressure.
- There may be partial hearing loss.
- A burning sensation in the face may be felt. This may be seen when the root of the facial nerve is also being impinged. It may even lead to paralysis of one side of the face.
- This condition may make the person more susceptible to having other ear problems.
A burning sensation in the ears may be confused with, and wrongly diagnosed as, an ear infection. The pain may be misdiagnosed as that originating from the ear canal, due to which the person may feel that it is an ear infection. However, it is not so difficult to diagnose this condition, once the exact symptoms and origin of pain are narrowed down. A CT scan may prove to be helpful in diagnosing this condition, as it will help to rule out any cause that is originating in the central nervous system. If the paresthesia is occurring due to nerve compression, then relieving the nerve will help in getting rid of the symptoms and will help to completely cure the disease.
A person can also try to use medications to deal with this condition and thus, get rid of the symptoms. Palliative treatment includes the use of topical numbing creams which may give temporary relief. After zeroing in on the causative agent, there may be some exercises that will help to relieve the compressed nerve. However, exercises of the neck may not help in cases of paresthesia that is originating in the face or in other regions.
This may be a mild symptom but it could prove to be very uncomfortable for the patient. Hence, it is best to take this condition seriously so as to prevent the occurrence of any further complications.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.