Red ear syndrome (RES) is a rare disorder of unknown etiology.
Male-to-female ratio of 1:1.25.
Reported to occur in patients from ages 4 to 92, with an average onset at age 42.
Manifest as redness in one or both external ears, which is accompanied by a burning sensation.
Red ears are symptom commonly associated with relapsing polychondritis (RP).
Relapsing polychondritis is a rare autoimmune disease that attacks various cartilage areas.
Red ears in RP indicate inflamed cartilage and often cause moderate to extreme pain during episodes of the disease.
Red ears in RP spares the earlobe due to the lack of cartilage in the earlobe.
Prolonged inflammation in RP can result in deteriorated ear cartilage.
Red ear syndrome attacks of skin redness and burning sensation or pain in one or both external ears are the only common symptom.
Pain is often most pronounced at the ear lobe, and sometimes radiates to the jawbone and cheek.
The pain is normally mild.
Attacks can last seconds or hours, with 30 minutes to an hour being typical.
Most patients have daily attacks.
Attacks range from as many as 20 a day to a few a year.
The process may be due to an auriculo-autonomic headache or be part of trigeminal autonomic cephalgias, which includes cluster headaches.
It is more often associated with migraine in younger people.
In late-onset RES it may be the result of pathology in the upper cervical spine or trigeminal autonomic cephalgia.
Difficult to treat.
Agents used include; gabapentin, amitriptyline, flunarizine, imipramine, verapamil, and propranolol.
Ice pack to cool the ear during an attack can provide relief.