Do deaf people still get earache

Sudden earache: otitis media

A cold can often be felt in the ear as well. Viruses and bacteria can migrate into the middle ear via a small connecting channel between the ear and the nasopharynx and trigger inflammation there. Doctors call this connection the Eustachian tube or the ear trumpet.

Complaints and side effects

If your child is currently suffering from an acute otitis media, rest assured: otitis media are in many cases part of childhood and are usually free of complications. In children, the ear trumpet is not yet fully developed. It is shorter and wider, which means that germs from the nasopharynx can penetrate the middle ear much more easily than in adults.

These symptoms can indicate an inflamed middle ear:

  • Pain and pressure in the affected ear
  • Cold with cough and runny nose
  • fever
  • a headache
  • general feeling of illness
  • dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • So-called ear compulsion: the child constantly grabs the affected ear
  • hearing is impaired
  • Secretion runs out of the ear
  • Timpani effusion

Important: In any case, see a doctor

"Most acute otitis media heal on their own," says Dr. Klaus Domdey, ENT doctor at the TK medical center. Frequent middle ear infections can result in the eardrum scarring and the affected person becoming permanently hard of hearing. This can also have a negative effect on their linguistic development in toddlers.

Infections as frequent triggers

"The cause of acute otitis media is often a virus infection of the mucous membranes of the upper airways," explains Dr. Domdey. "In the event of a virus infection, the mucous membrane in the ear trumpet swells. As a result, the middle ear can no longer be adequately ventilated, so that an inflammatory process can develop there. This can cause germs to multiply," said Domdey.

In addition to a viral infection, there are a number of other factors that can lead to acute otitis media:

  • Bacterial infection: In children, pneumococci and Haemophilus influenzae are the most common causes. Chronic inflammation in the area of ​​the nasal mucous membranes or sinuses can trigger an otitis media.
  • Traumatic perforation: If the eardrum is injured, pathogens can penetrate the middle ear and cause acute inflammation there.
  • Enlarged pharynx: If your child's pharyngeal tonsils swell significantly, the middle ear will not be well ventilated and an otitis media will often develop.
  • Underlying disease: A cleft palate, dysfunction of the ear trumpet, a weakened immune system or allergies can also promote acute otitis media.
  • Relapse: If your child has already had an acute otitis media in the first six months of life, the middle ear is prone to recurring infections.
  • Secondary illness: Middle ear infections can also develop as a result of bacterial infectious diseases such as measles or scarlet fever.

The medical examination

In many cases, your ENT doctor can tell if you have an acute otitis media just by looking at your eardrum. To do this, he uses a small ear mirror, the otoscope, which he inserts into the affected ear canal. If the eardrum is inflamed, it becomes discolored and bulges. Sometimes he can also make out a shimmering or purulent secretion.

With further tests, the doctor can determine the cause of the inflammation:

  • In order to rule out other possible diseases such as tonsillitis, he examines the nasopharynx.
  • If you or your child suffer from acute otitis media frequently, your ENT doctor will also perform a hearing test. During a follow-up examination, he can then check whether you can hear as well as before the illness.
  • Due to the increasing pressure in the inner ear, the eardrum can often no longer move properly. With the help of a measuring probe, the tympanometer, your doctor can measure the level of pressure in the middle ear and determine how badly the eardrum has been affected.
  • Sometimes the doctor fears complications, such as: B. inflammation of the mastoid process, also called mastoiditis, or inflammation of the meninges or spinal cord membranes, also called meningitis. Then he can use imaging techniques.
  • If the otitis media does not go away despite the prescribed medication, the ear secretions can be examined in a laboratory for viral or bacterial pathogens.

Treatment options

The primary goal of therapy is to calm the pain, lower the fever and let the inflammation subside. To achieve this, your doctor may prescribe the following medications:

  • Decongestant nasal drops or nasal sprays ensure that you can breathe better again.
  • Pain relievers and antipyretic agents counteract inflammation and help you relax and sleep better.
  • Antibiotics only help with inflammation caused by bacteria.

If the eardrum bulges so much that it hurts and affects hearing, an incision in the eardrum, known as paracentesis, can be useful.

How to lower the risk of inflammation

Take care of yourself. Only when the body is at rest can it overcome the inflammation and fully recover. You can reduce side effects such as fever with leg compresses. The following tips can help prevent acute otitis media:

  • Make your immune system fit: Eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly. Sauna visits and contrast baths also stimulate the circulation and train the immune system. If you have a cold right now, you'd better take a break.
  • Create a smoke-free environment: Passive smoking increases the risk of developing acute otitis media, especially in infants and young children.
  • Vaccination: A pneumococcal vaccination in childhood prevents serious diseases such as pneumonia or meningitis and has been shown to reduce the risk of developing otitis media.
  • Protect from drafts: If you or your child are prone to otitis media, protect yourself from drafts. Keep your head and ears warm with a hat in cold weather. Blow-dry your damp hair well, especially after swimming.
  • Drink enough water: The German Nutrition Society recommends that healthy adults drink 1.5 to 2 liters and children, depending on their age, 0.8 to 1.5 liters per day. The best options for this are water, juice spritzers or teas.
  • Let your child pacify less often: Constant sucking increases the negative pressure in the middle ear and can promote otitis media.
  • Be careful when cleaning your ears: Avoid cleaning your ears with cotton swabs if possible. These can push the earwax further into the ear canal, which can lead to the formation of a so-called earwax plug. You can also use the swab to injure the eardrum and make it easier for pathogens to get into the middle ear.
  • Attention when traveling by air: A cold or a cold makes it difficult to equalize the pressure in the middle ear at high altitudes, and a viral infection is easy. If a flight cannot be postponed, decongestant nasal drops help to equalize the pressure, especially before take-off and landing.