Ears are sensory organs that aren’t considered as important as others. There are several ear problems other than hearing loss. Since you cannot really inspect your ears yourself, it is not easy to check whether everything is fine with your ear health or not. Ear problems may not be common but they shouldn’t be ignored either. We all know about major organs and problems related to them but what about minor organs like ears? This section is dedicated to ear health and problems associated with ears. You will come to know common ear diseases, their treatment, prevention and much more here.
Ear problems can be very discomforting and unpleasant. While adults understand that something is not right with their ears, children find it difficult to understand and inform parents what they are going through.
From short-term issues to long-term ear diseases, we have listed down everything here along with their symptoms, causes and possible treatment options.
This is a highly common ear problem that is not a major issue unless it is persistent and gets treated on time. Earache is more prevalent in children as compared to adults. Aching can occur in one or both ears but most of the time, earache occurs in one ear only. Also, this could be short-term or may linger for a long time. If the pain is sharp, acute or burning, you may be having an ear infection. If it is so, earache would be accompanied by fever and temporary hearing loss. It may make you irritated and fussy.
As per Dr. M.K. Taneja - Senior ENT & Cochlear Implant Surgeon; Director at Taneja Hospital, New Delhi, Earache or ear pain is primarily caused due to an ear infection. In most cases, infections get cleared on their own in a few days but if it is a severe ear infection, it may take several days or weeks to get cleared. Also, ear infections are of two types depending upon the location of infection- inner ear infection and outer ear infection.
Inner infections: The other name for an inner ear infection is otitis media. This infection occurs in the Eustachian tube which is the connecting tube to the nose and eardrum. This infection mostly occurs in children because their Eustachian tube is smaller and it can get easily infected with bacteria and viruses.
Inner ear infections usually subside within a couple of days but if the infection and its symptoms persist for more than 3 days, you must see a doctor and take necessary treatment. If you have an infection, make sure that shampoo doesn’t go inside your ear or else it may irritate it more.
Outer ear infection or otitis externa – This ear infection mostly affects old-age people. This is a bacterial infection that is caused by fungus, yeast or bacteria entered into the ear canal. If someone has eczema or dermatitis or psoriasis, they are highly likely to get an outer ear infection. However, wearing hearing aids or long-term wearing of earplugs can also trigger this infection. In such cases, you should refrain yourself from putting anything inside your ear be it an earbud. Do not use earplugs for longer time periods and cover your ears while swimming and bathing to restrict the entry of shampoo and other irritants.
This is also called popping of the ears. Ear congestion occurs due to clogging of Eustachian tube. You would feel pressure in your ear followed by muffled hearing and slight ear pain.
The primary causes of ear congestion are common cold, flu, sinus infection, allergies, external irritants, etc. Even tobacco smoke can irritate ear congestion.
Talking about ear congestion treatment, the best treatment to aid ear congestion is blowing your nose gently. You can also use a nasal decongestant to clear the congestion. Nasal rinse is also helpful. Ear congestion is also caused due to nasal mucus that can be treated by hydration. If you are allergic that is causing ear congestion, use antihistamines. Besides, if your congestion is triggered by external irritants, use a humidifier to prevent them from entering your nasal passages.
Another subset of Ear congestion is congestion when travelling.
This is caused when rapid air pressure affects the ears. During plane take off and landing, sudden air pressure is blown that may stress your eardrum and middle ear. This can cause ear congestion along with sharp ear pain. If you happen the same, you must chew something like chewing gum or toffee that prevents pressure attack. You can also yawn during take off and landing that will also adjust air pressure. If congestion remains for a longer time, you can also take a nasal decongestant to get relief.
If anything gets into your ears such as an insect or anything that shouldn’t enter and may irritate the skin inside. While adults can easily find out that something has entered their ears, children may not sense it and so, it may cause serious infection inside their ears. Pain and hearing loss may also occur if timely treatment isn’t provided to the infected person. The symptoms of a foreign object in the ear are:
Some people commit the mistake of probing the ear with a cotton swab or anything else. This shouldn’t be done especially if you don’t know what has entered your ears. This could push the object deeper and cause more damage to your ears. If some foreign object has entered your ears, consult a doctor immediately to get rid of it safely.
Earwax is a normal thing as it builds up in everyone’s ears to protect ears from foreign objects. However, in some cases, excess earwax buildup can block your ears. This can cause ear infections, earache, itchiness in ears, high-pitched sounds coming from the ears, dizziness, etc. Instead of removing earwax on your own, you must consult an ENT specialist. If you try to remove earwax, it may push it further and make it more difficult to eliminate.
If you feel like your ears are blocked and there is a lot of earwax accumulated inside your ears, you can try remedies like putting 3-4 drops of warm olive oil or almond oil. Do this twice a day. The earwax might fall out on its own within a week or two. If you are feeling extreme discomfort due to the earwax, consult a doctor or ask a pharmacist to prescribe you something that can dissolve the wax.
This ear condition is when you hear sounds that are produced inside your ears only. There is no external source of the sound. Tinnitus is common in older adults but even children can get this. Oftentimes, this is linked to age-related degeneration. However, it can also be caused due to overexposure to loud noise. For example, adults who are used to listening to music in earphones at higher volume can get tinnitus. The other reasons for tinnitus are cold and congestion. This causes a ringing or hissing sound in the ears followed by whooshing, sizzling and buzzing sounds. The frequency of sound could be low, medium or sometimes high-pitched. Also, tinnitus could be temporary or permanent both. You must consult an ENT specialist for tinnitus treatment. There are many therapies and treatment options available for tinnitus.