Ear pain or earache, however one may call it, is a very common condition which involves a pain or a discomfort in either one ear or in both the ears. The pain during its initial stage is very mild in nature and it may turn out to be chronic and severe if proper care and prevention measures are not taken. Common causes of earache include: change in air pressure, infection, externally caused injury, water/ shampoo trapped inside the ear, excessive earwax, sinus infection, etc. the origination center of an ear pain is usually in the jaws or the teeth region, but its effects are felt in and around the ears.
HOW IS EAR PAIN DIAGNOSED?
Ear infections are not contagious. However, many children develop earaches due to viral infections like cold and cough, and those infections are contagious.
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 a development in some other part of the body which is connected to the ear through neural pathways.
Ear pain causes include the following:
• Earwax blockage: It takes place because of the accumulation of excess earwax in the ear canal. Causing a feeling of fullness, ache, ringing or buzzing sounds in one ear earwax can usually be cleaned at home though medical help may sometimes be required.
• Otitis externa: Commonly known as “swimmer’s ear”, otitis externa is an ear infection that affects the tube connecting the ear opening to the ear drum. It may be a result of 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.
• Foreign bodies: Pain in ear is also caused when foreign objects like pencils, erasers, crayola, toys or even food are lodged in the ear, nose, eyes or throat either accidentally or deliberately. The blockage may result in choking, pain and breathing problems and can often develop ear infections if not removed immediately.
• Otitis media: It is a type of ear infection which occurs when viral or bacterial infection causes inflammation of the middle ear, mostly in winter and spring seasons. This is one of the major causes of ear pain in kids and may be accompanied by fever and temporary loss of hearing.
• Mastoiditis: This is a serious condition that develops from an untreated middle-ear infection which causes the mastoid bone to disintegrate. Its symptoms, like those of ear infection, include pain in ear, fever, headache, hearing loss and inflammation of the ear.
• 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 include 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 a rupture in the eardrum.
• 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 causes pain, temporary or permanent hearing loss, tinnitus and/or dizziness.
In addition, sinusitis and tonsillitis inflammations also cause ear pain in kids and adults.
Ear pain treatment involves proper diagnosis of the cause of ear pain through procedures like physical examination, x-ray, diagnostic tests like CT scan, MRI or sample testing among others. In most cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics and rest as a cure for ear pain. In more severe cases however, surgery may have to be performed.
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