Earache – Causes and Treatments

Earaches can be caused by several factors. Also, a very common cause of earache is obstruction of the Eustachian tube, the small tube that connects the inner back of the nose with the middle ear.

Air in the middle ear is constantly being drawn in by its membranous wall, but it is never emptied as long as the Eustachian tube remains open and able to replenish itself during swallowing. In this way, the air pressure on both sides of the eardrum remains nearly equal. However, when the Eustachian tube is obstructed, the pressure in the middle ear cannot be equalized. The air that is already there is sucked in, and without a new supply, a vacuum occurs in the middle ear, sucking the eardrum inward and painfully straining it.

This type of earache is particularly common in people who travel by plane, especially when they have a cold or a stuffy nose. During takeoff and landing,  middle ear pain pressure does not equalize as it would if the Eustachian tube were unobstructed. This problem is known as barotrauma.

The most common reasons for earache include:

  • Any fluid that has settled inside the ear canal, such as water or cosmetics;
  • Infection of the ear canal outside the eardrum (otitis externa)
  • A boil or infected hair follicle in the ear canal;
  • Arthritis of the jaw;
  • Barotrauma, caused by pressure variations;
  • Eczema in the ear canal (seborrheic dermatitis)
  • Ear canal damage from objects such as cotton swabs or sharp objects;
  • Blockages in the ear caused by wax plaques or objects pushed through the ear canal;
  • Throat infections (including tonsillitis) and colds ;
  • Allergies in the respiratory tract, or infections such as rhinosinusitis;
  • Pain caused by jaw problems such as temporomandibular joint dysfunction;
  • Dental abscess in the mouth or other causes of toothache , such as wisdom teeth (third molar)
  • Trigeminal neuralgia (pain due to changes in the trigeminal nerve);
  • Pain from problems such as inflammation of the facial nerve;

Why Children Get More Earaches: It is estimated that three out of four children will have had at least one ear infection by age 3. This is because bacteria in the nose and throat end up in the Eustachian tubes when children yawn or swallow.

When the tube is swollen due to a cold or allergy, which is very common in childhood, it cannot drain secretions, which makes the environment even more conducive to ear infections. Another problem is that children’s tubas are shorter than those of adults, making this process even easier. Babies who breastfeed lying down are also more likely to develop the problem because of this connection.

In addition to pain, other clues can indicate that a child or baby has an earache :

  • Babies who look more irritable than usual;
  • Children who pull or rub the ear;
  • fever ;
  • loss of appetite;
  • Trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night
  • Cough and stuffy nose;
  • Hearing impaired;
  • Balance problems;

Diagnosis of Ear Pain :  The doctor will examine the ear using an instrument called an otoscope. A healthy eardrum is pearly in color. If an ear infection is present the eardrum may be inflamed, swollen or red.

If there is a sign of persistent ear infections or persistent fluid buildup in the middle ear, your doctor may refer you to a hearing specialist (speech pathologist) or developmental therapist for tests of hearing, speaking skills, language comprehension, or language skills. development.

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