Hearing & Balance
The physicians and staff of the ENT Group of Los Angeles have put together the following resources in order to better assist you.
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
Ear pain, medically known as otalgia, is often a result of a buildup of fluid in the middle ear, the part of the ear behind the eardrum. The pain can be sharp, dull or burning and can be temporary or constant.
An earache is often caused by a malfunction of the Eustachian tube, which drains fluid from the middle ear. When the fluid is not drained properly, it builds up and causes pain or even hearing loss. A malfunction is likely to occur as a result of a cold or allergy which causes the Eustachian tube to be swollen shut.
Ear pain can be a symptom of many ear conditions. It is a common symptom that is present more often in children than adults. Some other conditions that can be the cause of ear pain are:
- Middle ear infection
- Swimmer’s ear
- Infected cyst
- Ear pressure
While alleviating the pain is important, so is determining the cause. Your doctor will assess your ear pain along with any other symptoms you may have and perform a medical examination to determine the cause of your ear pain. A thin probe called an otoscope is used to inspect inside the ear canal. If there is any fluid leaking from the ear, a sample can be analyzed. If the problem is suspected to be neurological, an MRI or CAT scan may be performed.
Treatment for ear pain depends upon the cause of the pain. Treatment options can include:
- Cleaning the ear
- Oral or topical antibiotics
- Equalizing pressure
- Removal of ear wax
While some causes of ear pain cannot be prevented, it is important to maintain proper ear care and avoid unnecessary pain. Avoiding loud environments and keeping objects out of the ear canal can help decrease the risk for ear pain.
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