Reasons for an Earache When to go to the ER
We’ve all had an earache at some point, and although it can be distressing, it’s nothing to worry about in most cases. However, some reasons for an earache can be serious and need medical attention.
Let’s look at the most common causes of earaches, their symptoms, and when to go to the ER.
At Angleton ER, the finest emergency room in Angleton, Texas, we’re happy to provide you with the emergency care that you need during those crucial hours. We’re fast, have no long wait times, and are open 24/7 including holidays.
Why Does My Earache?
The most common cause of ear pain is an ear infection which can occur in the inner, middle, or outer ear.
Inner Ear Infections (Otitis Interna): The inner ear is the deepest part of our ear. The inner ear plays a vital role in our sense of balance. Infections can occur here when a cold, flu, or middle ear infection spreads. Inner ear infections cause inflammation, leading to dizziness, a sensation of imbalance, nausea, and hearing impairments.
Middle Ear Infections (Otitis Media): The middle ear is the air-filled space behind the eardrum. An infection in this area is usually due to a malfunction of the Eustachian tube ( a thin tube that helps regulate the pressure between the outer and middle ear). When this tube becomes swollen or blocked, it prevents normal fluid drainage from the middle ear, opening the door to bacteria and viruses to grow and cause infection.
Anyone can get a middle ear infection. However, infants are most affected because their Eustachian tube is too small, making drainage more difficult.
Outer Ear Infections (Otitis Externa): This condition is also known as a swimmer’s ear. This is because swimmers often get this type of infection since repeated exposure to water can make the ear canal vulnerable to inflammation, trapping moisture that allows bacteria to grow.
Foreign Objects Stuck in the Ear: Children often stick objects in their ears. If this happens to your child, don’t try to remove the thing yourself, as you could push it further in or damage the ear canal or eardrum.
When to Go to the ER
Most ear infections and earaches will pass on their own. However, there are certain times when medical attention is necessary to prevent long-term damage.
Rupture or Burst Eardrum
Eardrums are thin membranes located inside the ear that vibrate with sound. The membranes are very delicate and damage easily when hit by sudden loud noises, severe ear infections, or when objects are pushed inside the ear.
A burst eardrum is very painful, and you may have bloody discharge. If you think you may have a ruptured eardrum, place sterile cotton over the outside of the ear and rush to the nearest ER for help.
Please come to the ER if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Severe pain
- Symptoms that show no signs of improvement after 1-2 days
- Fluid or pus discharge from the ear
- Young children having trouble sleeping
- Children being unusually irritable, fuzzy, or moody
- Loss of hearing or difficulty hearing clearly
- High fever lasting more than one day
- Severe drowsiness
- Stiff neck
Object Lodged in the Ear
If something gets stuck in your or your child’s ear, please seek a trained medical professional’s help to remove it.
When left untreated, ear infections can result in dangerous complications that compromise your hearing. If you have an ear infection or are unsure of the cause and severity of an earache, the best option is to visit the ER sooner rather than later.
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