Video transcription

Hi I'm Dr. David Hill and today we're going to talk about how to get rid of an earache. Now earache is potentially one of the most painful conditions you can experience. There's an awful lot of nerves in the ear. They're very sensitive, and when there's inflammation or some other cause for pain, it can really be an incredibly distracting experience. So we should talk about what causes pain in the ear, and to talk about that, we have to talk about the parts of the ear. Now in older people, the most common cause of ear pain is probably swimmer's ear. Doctors refer to that as Otitis Externa because it affects the external auditory canal. That's everything from the hole right here where sound goes in down to the eardrum and that area is lined by relatively tender skin and tissue. If that tissue gets wet repeatedly or there is something in there irritating it, maybe you tried to clear your ear or clean your ears out with a Q-tip and you scraped it that can introduce infection. Infection in that area hurts and the hallmark of an Otitis Externa or outer ear infection is that when you move this part of the ear it hurts or if you push here on this little button called the Tragus. So if you have that you probably need to see a doctor to get some antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops to help it go away. Now another part of the ear that can hurt is the middle ear. The middle ear is the air filled space that starts on the inside of the eardrum and includes the bones that transmit sound to the cochlea where nerves begin to interpret that sound for you. That's very common in young children and toddlers and usually it follows a cold or sinus infection where fluid and pus is allowed to collect in the ear that then gets infected and the inflammation from the infection can be quite painful. Now we used to want to treat all middle ear infections with antibiotics, we have learned however, that for many children leaving them alone is just fine because they're going to get themselves better anyway and especially for children over the age of two, the antibiotics don't make a dramatic difference in many cases in how fast they get better. On the other hand in some complicated or particularly severe ear infections antibiotics are needed so to know what's going on you pretty much have to take a child to a doctor who can look at the eardrum and see what sort of process is occurring in the middle ear. Now you might also have pain as a result of too much air pressure or too little air pressure in the middle ear. This will happen if you've gone up and down a tall elevator, if you have taken off and landed in an airplane, if you've been scuba diving or swimming to the bottom of a pool, anything that alters pressure in the middle ear can be painful. Usually yawning, chewing gum or doing other things to open the jaw wide allows the pressure to equalize between the middle ear and the rest of the world and usually that's going to resolve that pain. Talking about how to get rid of pain in the ear, I am Dr. David Hill.