Earache is one of the most common medical problems that affect children and adults alike. Inflammation and swelling of the structures that make up the ear (the external auditory canal, the tympanic membrane and the middle ear) are indicative of an earache.
The Eustachian tube in the middle of the ear, which connects up to the back of the throat, is not able to drains the fluids that are produced in the middle ear. As a result, there is a fluid build-up that makes the ear to hurt. This leads to rise in pressure behind the eardrum. Sometimes the ear itself is affected and at other times it is the surrounding areas that are connected to the ear are affected.
During the doctor’s visit, the eardrum will be checked using an Otoscope. The eardrum usually appears to be pinkish grey in colour and transparent. If the eardrum is found to be swollen, red or tender the possibility of an infection is diagnosed. A thorough physical examination of the ear, throat and nose will be carried out to check for causes of the pain in all related areas of the ear. If the mastoid bone, found behind the ear on the skull is found to be damaged in any way, it might be considered as a serious infection.
Another diagnostic tool for ear infections is tympanometry, which uses sound and air pressure to check for fluid in the middle ear (it cannot test hearing).
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