Ear infections are quite common, especially in children. They are usually painful and uncomfortable, but do not cause long term damage is they are cured quickly without complications. If they are painful and the discomfort is not relieved within a few days, you should consult a doctor to find out the cause.
Here are a few of the most common types of ear problems.
Inner ear infections are common in children, while outer year infections are common in older people. Inner ear infections are caused by virus infections such as cold and flu. Outer ear infections are caused by bacterial or fungal infection. Wearing ear pods, swimming and skin problems increase risk of outer ear infections.
Ear pain, itching or irritation in the ear, feeling of pressure, fullness or blocking of ears, high pitched sound in the ears even when there is no external noise, fever, hearing problems, lethargy, discharge from ear or scaly skin in/ around the ear are the symptoms of ear infection.
If the pain or discomfort is mild, it may get better and you may be cured in a few days. But if the problem persists or is severe and you have discharge from your ear or have a fever, you should consult a doctor immediately. You will be given medication depending on the nature of the infection.
When the inner ear tube (eustachian tube) becomes clogged it leads to ear congestion. You will feel pressure inside your ear and your hearing may become muffled.
Ear congestion may be caused by congestion in the sinus, which can be caused cold, flu, sinusitis, allergies, external irritants etc.
If the problem is recurrent or persists over a few days, consult a doctor for diagnosis and relief before taking any medication. Avoiding irritants such as smoke, drinking enough water to keep your nasal mucus thin and allergy medication may reduce symptoms.
When there is absolute silence, if you still hear a constant sound in your ear. This is due to a condition called tinnitus. The sound can range from ringing, hissing, sizzling, bussing, whooshing or a sound that appears as a background noise called white noise. You may have just one type of sound or a combination of sounds and this can be low, medium or loud, constant or intermittent.
Tinnitus can be caused by listening to loud music or due to congestion. These are generally temporary. But many people suffer from it permanently. This more common in adults and develops as you age, but it affects children too.
If it does not subside on its own and is permanent, then you may require counselling to reduce anxiety. Sound therapy may also be used to help your brain ignore the sound so you become less aware of it and learn to live with it comfortably.
Earwax is produced by glands in the outer ear and is usually pushed out and washes off. If your ear produces excess earwax then it may accumulate faster than it can be cleared leading to blockage.
Symptoms of this condition are ear pain, hearing problems, itchiness, dizziness, sounds in the ear, ear infections etc.
You may be tempted to clear wax with a cotton bud or drag it out with whatever you find handy. This is a dangerous habit for at best you will push the wax inside or at worst you may cause puncture wounds and painful infections.
If you have these symptoms of blockage, seek medical help. Your doctor can safely remove earwax and clear your ear for complete relief.
Tips to prevent some common ear problems
- Avoid putting anything into your ear including buds and your finger
- Use ear plugs when you swim
- Avoid getting shampoo or soap into your ear
- Dry ear thoroughly
- Do not self-treat ear problems
- Do not use ear pods continuously for long periods of time
- Get treatment for illnesses that lead to congestion such as cold, sinusitis, flu etc
- Identify your allergy triggers and avoid them
If you have any ear problem, don’t hesitate to consult our ENT specialist at the earliest to get the best treatment and relief.