cold weather ear aches
November 30, 2006 3:10 PM   Subscribe

What causes my terrible ear and headaches when I am out in the cold for more than 20 minutes?

Has anyone else experienced bad ear and headaches while out in the cold? What causes this and is there anything I can do to prevent it other than staying indoors?
posted by nyu2 to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I get this too, particularly if it's windy. I make a point to cover my ears on cold days.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:28 PM on November 30, 2006

I don't get headaches but my ears hurt a lot, and much like oneirodynia, it's usually at it's worst when windy.

Covering the ears works, if you don't want to wear a hat you can try earplugs...if you're into that.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 4:41 PM on November 30, 2006

make sure you have thoroughly dried your hair and/or ears after eg washing your hair; sorry if that is a blinding glimpse of the obvious...
posted by londongeezer at 4:48 PM on November 30, 2006

There's a pocket of air sealed in the inner ear. Rapid change in temperature = painful change in air pressure. Which can be godawful if you're congested, because the eustachian tubes (which regulate the pressure) get blocked.

Keep your head/ears covered, and when you've got a cold try not to go out until your favorite decongestant is working its magic. If you do get an ear ache, deal with it the same way as on a plane: yawning, chewing hard, swallowing, warm compresses, etc.

Covering up really should be enough for most people, though. If you're getting ear aches regularly in spite of reasonable precautions, time for a doctor visit. There might be a drainage problem (risk of hearing loss), or it could be "referred" pain from a condition elsewhere.

(IANAD but have had these happen many, many times. They really suck, don't they?)
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:32 PM on November 30, 2006

I get this too, and it is really painful. I just make sure that I am as covered up as I can possibly.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:39 PM on November 30, 2006

I used to get this when I was living in London. You can prevent it by moving back to Australia.
posted by pompomtom at 7:32 PM on November 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

Hold your nose and blow - it should clear your ears.
posted by agregoli at 7:30 AM on December 1, 2006

agregoli, can't you pop your eardrums doing that? or is that an old wives' tale?
posted by sweetkid at 7:46 AM on December 1, 2006

It's called the Valsalva maneuver.
posted by agregoli at 9:23 AM on December 4, 2006

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