Most people have endured a certain type of earache at least once during their lifetime. There are many various reasons behind the condition and the typical symptoms include aching, itching, swelling, redness and inflammation in the different parts of the ear. The experienced pain may range from mild to severe and be characterised by either a sharp outburst or a continuous and dull feeling of discomfort. Additional symptoms that the sufferer might have include a loss of appetite, fever, poor sleep, vertigo, fluids leaking from the ear and a decreased ability to hear.
Even the slightest sensations of earache should be handled carefully, as they might easily lead to a serious medical condition. Accurate measures should be taken on time and a professional should administer the necessary treatment
Most common types of earaches
Otitis externa, which is most commonly known as swimmer's ear, is a condition usually resulting from the accumulation of moisture in the ear canal, which causes inflammation. The damp environment favours the growth of bacteria and helps spread infection. Swimming or experiencing humid weather can often trigger the condition. Otitis externa may also result from the abrupt interference of a foreign body with the ear canal leading to injuries and damage. This may happen even during a simple procedure such as cleaning your ears with a cotton-tipped swab, due to the insertion of earplugs or hearing aids or as a result of the manual cleaning of earwax.
A fungus infection could be another cause. Regardless of the reason behind the infection, it should be treated as soon as possible, because severe cases of otitis externa might lead to conductive hearing loss. The mildest cases usually heal naturally in a few days, although it will be necessary to keep the ear away from water. Moderate and severe cases usually require the use of medications such as eardrops, which contain antibiotics. In some cases, if the ear canal is blocked due to earwax and secretion resulting from the swelling, it is necessary to remove them before applying the solution.
Otitis media is quite a painful condition characterised by infection that has spread throughout the middle ear. It is a common complication after colds or infections of the upper respiratory tract. Unlike otitis externa, where the inflammation of the ear canal is easily visible, the examination of the middle ear and eardrum will require the use of an otoscope. The pressure that builds behind the eardrum will make it look red and inflamed and if the condition worsens, the tympanic membrane may be perforated. Besides the pain, other symptoms of otitis media might include fever, ringing in the ears, secretions and mild hearing loss. The milder cases can be treated with oral analgesics such as paracetamol in order to relieve the pain, but the treatment usually involves the intake of antibiotics, especially when it comes to adults in order to prevent serious complications.
As with all medical conditions, if you have any concerns relating to pain or discomfort with your ears - you should seek medical advice from your GP.