is a condition characterized by repeated episodes of severe pain in the tongue, throat, ear, and tonsils (areas connected to the ninth cranial nerve, or glossopharyngeal nerve). It typically occurs in individuals over age 40. Episodes of pain may last from a few seconds to a few minutes, and usually occur on one side. The pain may be triggered by swallowing, speaking, laughing, chewing or coughing. The condition is thought to be due to irritation of the nerve, although the source of irritation is unclear. The goal of treatment is to control pain, but over-the-counter pain medications are not very effective; the most effective drugs are anti-seizure medications. Some antidepressants help certain people. Surgery to cut or take pressure off of the glossopharyngeal nerve may be needed in severe cases.
Last updated: 1/28/2013