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What is earache?

Ear infections are most common in young children but they can occur at any age.  Any portion of the ear may be affected but the outer and middle ears are the most common sites. The eustachian tube extends from the middle ear to the throat and it drains fluid from the ear to the nose and throat.  If the eustachian tube is not draining properly, secretions build up in the middle ear with the result that pressure in the ear rises and the ear becomes painful and often infected, hence earache.

What causes earache?

The ear is a complex structure consisting of three sections, the outer, middle and inner ears. An outer ear infection can develop if you get water or other substances in your ear, particularly if the irritant is then trapped by earwax, or if the ear canal is subjected to trauma, such as cleaning with a cotton swab. The skin of the outer ear becomes red and swollen and pus may develop as the body attempts to fight the infection. Middle ear infection is caused by harmful bacteria, viruses or fungi which are often a complication of the common cold or other upper respiratory infections. Depending on the cause of the infection a fever may be present, but the defining symptom of a middle ear infection is pain which is constant and can be severe.  If you experience sharp, severe pain followed by a sudden drainage of blood or pus, you may have a perforated eardrum.

What you can do about earache:

All severe, lingering or recurrent ear pain requires medical evaluation. Placing a warm compress on the outside of your ear will bring quick pain relief and the heat will also facilitate the healing process. If you are prescribed an anti-biotic take a probiotic supplement such as  acidophilus or bifidus supplement to replace the necessary friendly bowel bacteria which will be stripped from the intestinal tract by these drugs. If the outer ear is irritated lavender oil, rubbed in gently, can be very soothing. You can prepare a eucalyptus oil steam bath which will aid in opening the eustachian tube easing pressure and facilitating the drainage of infectious fluids.  Repeat several times a day until the pain subsides. Vitamin C plays an important part in fighting infection and taking it with the plant based flavonoids, a natural anti-inflammatory, will enhance its effectiveness.


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