An ear infection can be annoying without temple pain, but with temple pain, ear infections can be downright excruciating. Although these two problems do not always go together, knowing that they can be related allows for better symptom relief.
The temple pain that results from an ear infection is typically related to pressure. The tissues of the ear, neck and temple all are very closely connected with nerves, muscles, veins and arteries. When the tissues of the ear become infected, they can swell as the body's immune system response kicks in. This swelling causes pressure, which can irritate nerves and muscles in the neck and temple area and result in pain. Most commonly, however, pain associated with ear infections is related to the pressure of fluid on the eardrum.
Ear infections that cause temple pain may be related to both bacteria and viruses. Treating temple pain related to an ear infection requires getting rid of the infection--pain relievers may treat the symptom, but they will not eliminate what is causing the infection. It is thought that chronic ear infections and temple pain may be related to the shape of the inner ear (bacteria and viruses grow better in ears that don't allow fluid to drain), so some doctors recommend having tubes put in the ears to assist with fluid drainage. This is common with small children. The chances of developing an ear infection that will culminate in temple pain can be reduced by making sure the ears are clean and by practicing good hygiene habits.
If the cause is bacterial, the temple pain related to an ear infection is treated most efficiently with antibiotics. Viral infections related to ear and temple pain, such as the flu, can be more difficult to treat. A flu vaccine is a preventative measure for the flu. Inflammation reducers and immune-boosting drugs, foods and herbs generally are prescribed for these infections. If left untreated, surgery may be needed to reduce the pressure.
If an ear infection occurs at the same time as temple pain, this does not always mean that the temple pain is related to the infection. Other diagnoses must be ruled out first. For instance, temple pain also can be related to tension in the jaw. Check with a doctor to confirm that a relationship exists between symptoms before beginning a treatment regimen.
When to Get Help
Temple pain from an ear infection is almost always an indication that the infection is serious enough to warrant attention. The ear canal is a route for infection to travel into the brain, so if the temple pain is accompanied by any dizziness, abnormal behavior, or physical problems, seek treatment immediately.