19 Sep Ask the Expert
Question: I came across your site when I was researching a symptom I’ve been experiencing for 5 or 6 years. I have seen my doctor a few times over the years about my problem and she is stumped.
I have an extremely cold ear. The top, usually in the cartilage, feels the coldest. It does not feel cold to the touch when others feel it but it is ice cold to me. I bend it down onto my warm neck for relief. It becomes even colder when I am tired. When I’m extremely tired, the coldness creeps down my neck and up my face. A little while ago a friend suggested it could be a migraine. Could that be? Have you ever heard of such a thing?
Response: There is a nerve, called the auriculotemporal nerve which can alter the temperature of the ear. That is most associated with the “red ear syndrome” where it can feel hot, and more commonly seen in those with migraine, but it is possible that the nerve is making your ear feel cold. My experience is that it does not usually respond to migraine drugs. If bothersome enough, a pain doctor can do a nerve block of that nerve to see if it helps, but otherwise I would leave it alone. -Mark W. Green, MD, FAAN
Mark W. Green, MD, FAAN is the Director of the Center for Headache and Pain Medicine and Professor of Neurology, Anesthesiology, and Rehabilitation at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He is certified in Neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and in Headache Medicine through the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties. He is a fellow in the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Green has been active in the practice of headache and facial pain since 1978. He has lectured throughout the world on this subject and has written numerous articles on various subjects concerning headache and facial pain.