Ear Pain or earache is the most common problem in children. It may be a constant pain or pain that remains for a short duration. It can affect one ear or two ears. Common causes of ear pain are cold, fluid in the ear, ear blocks, injury in the ear or a boil in the ear. Symptoms are:
• Irritability in infants
• Poor feeding in infants
• Restlessness or sleeplessness at night
• Hearing problems
• Balance problems
• Coughing or runny nose
HOW IS EAR PAIN DIAGNOSED?
The doctor will examine the ear with an instrument called an otoscope to check for any signs of infection. A inflamed, swollen or red eardrum would indicate an infection. Using a pneumatic otoscope the pressure of the fluid in the middle ear would be checked. A tympanometry could also be used to check the pressure of fluid in the middle ear.
HOW IS EAR PAIN TREATED?
Treatments depend on the diagnosis of the problem. In most cases, ear pain happens because of infection which is treated via antibiotic ear drops. In some cases, antibiotics may be given to combat or hasten the action of the drugs.
DID YOU KNOW?
There are many home remedies for treating ear pain in infants
Ear pain or earache is primarily of two kinds: primary and referred. The reasons for primary ear pain lie inside the ear, in the external, middle of inner sections of the ear. Referred ear pain is a result of the development of an infection or inflammation in another body part which has neural connections with the ear.
Ear pain causes include the following:
• Otitis externa: Also known as “swimmer’s ear”, otitis externa is an ear infection affecting the tube connecting the ear opening to the ear drum. It may result from continuous exposure to moisture or a rupture of the thin layer of skin that lines the outer ear because of excessive headphone or cotton swab use. Swimmer’s ear is one of the main causes for ear pain in kids.
• Earwax blockage: It takes place when there is excessive accumulation of earwax in the ear canal. Causing fullness, ache, ringing or buzzing sounds in one ear, earwax can be cleaned at home though medical help may sometimes be required.
• Foreign bodies: Pain in ear also results from the deliberate or accidental lodging of foreign objects like pencils, erasers, crayola, toys or even food in the ear, nose, eyes or throat. The blockage causes choking, pain and breathing problems and can often develop ear infections if not removed immediately.
• Mastoiditis: A serious condition that develops from an untreated middle-ear infection which causes the mastoid bone to disintegrate, the symptoms of mastoiditis resembles those of ear infection. It includes pain in ear, fever, headache, hearing loss and inflammation of the ear.
• Otitis media: It is a type of ear infection which occurs due to middle ear inflammation as a result of viral or bacterial infection, mostly in winter and spring seasons. One of the major causes of ear pain in kids, it may be accompanied by fever and temporary loss of hearing.
• Eardrum rupture: It is a small tear or hole in the eardrum or the tympanic membrane dividing the middle ear from the outer ear because of ear infection, injury and/or pressure changes. It leads to pain, temporary or permanent hearing loss, tinnitus and/or dizziness.
• Chronic Ear Infection: Affecting the middle ear and the area behind the eardrum, chronic ear infection refers to an infection that does not heal. Ear infection symptoms are a feeling of pressure in the ear, mild ear pain, drainage of fluid from the ear, fever and hearing trouble. If left untreated, chronic ear infection can cause the eardrum to rupture.
Tonsillitis inflammation and sinusitis can also result in ear pain in kids and adults.
Proper diagnosis of ear pain is the first step in the ear pain treatment. While over-the-counter painkillers often help deal with the pain and inflammation, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics and rest. Procedural physical examination and diagnostic tests like X-ray, CT scan and MRI are often conducted to ascertain the ear pain cause. In case the ear disease is severe, surgery may also be prescribed.
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