What to do in case of ear pain and what causes inflammation of the ear?

Ear pain or otalgia is a discomfort, coming from the ears, which disrupts the everyday lifestyle of a person.

Primary and secondary otalgia is distinguished. Otalgia is considered primary if the ear is the cause of the pain, secondary - if the ear does not cause the pain.

Causes of primary otalgia: acute infection of the upper respiratory tract, inflammation of the outer and middle ear, foreign body in the ear, trauma (barotrauma). Causes of secondary otalgia: temporomandibular joint syndrome, dental causes (caries, pulpitis), pharyngitis or tonsillitis, arthritis of the cervical spine, neuralgia (trigeminal, pharyngeal), pathology of the salivary gland (parotitis), psychogenic (depression, anxiety) and others.

The otorhinolaryngologist at the National Center of Surgery Rusudan Kontselidze talks about ear pain.

- Dr. Rusudan, as a rule, some patients prefer to treat the ear pain at home, although of course, this situation requires the timely intervention of a doctor. Before a patient reaches an otorhinolaryngologist, what advice do you have to relieve an earache, or what is strictly prohibited at this time?

- The patient may use drops intended for the inflammation of the ear. But, if there is a discharge from the ear (possibly because of the perforation of the eardrum), it is strictly forbidden to use ear drops containing alcohol.

Dry heat in the ear area is recommended, when the condition is accompanied by the cold, you can use nasal drops (in permissible doses), antipyretic and analgesic drugs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Self-medication with antibiotics is absolutely prohibited!

If the condition does not improve within 2-3 days and the pain does not go away, the patient should immediately consult with the otorhinolaryngologist.

- Explain what is otitis, inflammation of the ear, and except for the ear pain, what are other symptoms?

- There can be an inflammation of the outer and middle ear. External otitis often happens in the summer and mainly after swimming. It is caused by the damage and infection to the skin of the ear canal. The middle ear inflammation – is caused by the inflammation of the mucous membrane of the eardrum, usually infectious. It often occurs in winter and follows the infection of the upper respiratory tract.

In addition to the ear pain, other symptoms appear during otitis: fever, rhinitis, depressed mood, loss of appetite, hearing loss, sometimes tinnitus, there may be the discharge from the ear that occurs after perforation (the so-called rupture) of the eardrum.

- What can you tell us about the causes of ear inflammation and is the condition always associated with the cold?

- The main cause of middle ear inflammation is the spread of the inflammatory process, infection to the auditory tube (the so-called Eustachian tube). The most common causes are viruses (acute respiratory viral infection), streptococco-staphylococcal association, pneumococci in children.

During the winter season, of course, the number of ear inflammation cases increases – due to the general and local hypothermia (cold), the risk of developing an upper respiratory tract infection increases.

- When is the probability of developing an ear inflammation the highest?

- Mostly during childhood from 6 to 18 months, due to the anatomical arrangement. At this age, the auditory tube is wide and short, so the infection from the nasopharynx easily spreads into the tympanic cavity. In addition, childhood infectious diseases, adenoids frequently cause otitis in children.

- How does ear inflammation (otitis) develop during flu?

-Commonly, an inflammation of the middle ear occurs during flu (acute respiratory viral infection) as a complication. Infection from the nasal cavity, from the nasopharynx, passes through the internal auditory tube or hematogenous spread occurs into the tympanic cavity and results in otitis. During influenza, otitis occurs against the background of general intoxication, therefore it is more severe. Intracranial complications (meningitis) may also develop.

- How do you treat ear pain at the National Center of Surgery?

- We collect a full history, conduct the rhino-pharyngo-otoscopy. In the clinic, the patient uses the full range of laboratory tests. These diagnostic methods give us the opportunity to make the correct diagnosis.

- Dr. Rusudan, in winter, in the cold weather, the risk of ear pain increases, how can we protect ourselves, what are your recommendations?

- It is recommended to do an anti-influenza vaccine, if possible, avoid crowded places, comply with the general hygiene regime, often wash your hands, take a meal rich in vitamins, take a walk in the fresh air, you must prevent chronic diseases of the nasal and maxillary sinuses, do not swim in the pools without earplugs, rarely use cotton ear sticks.

National Center of Surgery address – Tbilisi, Digomi Chachava street N5.

You can contact the Call-center of the National Center of Surgery at 577 119 119 or 2 02 25 25;

If you have some questions, you can contact the otorhinolaryngologist at the National Center of Surgery Rusudan Kontselidze at 599 31 83 92.

Wish you health!