How to treat and prevent earaches

An ear ache is usually the sign of infection. If anyone has severe ear pain or sudden loss of hearing, get prompt medical care; delay can lead to permanent ear damage.

Pain in the outer ear may result from boils in the ear canal or from “swimmer’s ear.” The latter infection is frequent in summer; treat it with Burow’s solution or an equivalent applied four times daily. Take aspirin or another analgesic to relieve pain. See your doctor if the pain worsens or persists more than 2 days. To prevent swimmer’s ear, wear a bathing cap or Earp lugs when swimming.

Middle-ear infection, common in childhood and often following a respiratory illness, is mainly characterized by partial hearing loss and a feeling of stuffiness in the affected ear. There is no home remedy; immediate medical care is required.

How to take care of your ears

Clean your outer ear with soap and water on the comer of a washcloth or with a cotton swab. Don’t try to remove wax in the ear canal with a swab or
other instrument; you may impact it further and injure your eardrum. An over-the-counter wax-dissolving agent may help, but the safest course is to have a doctor flush out impacted wax with a syringe.

Hearing and balance maybe temporarily or permanently affected by an ear infection, by certain drugs, or by an obstruction such as a correctable bone abnormality or overgrown adenoids. Some loss of hearing may accompany aging.

Increasingly, experts blame permanent hearing loss on the high noise level of modern life: prolonged exposure to loud noise at work or intermittent exposure to loud music, machinery, or traffic. A very high-decibel sound, such as an explosion, can cause immediate damage.

Protect your ears by observing the following practices: wear ear muffs or Earp lugs in an excessively noisy environment. Don’t fly when you have a respiratory infection. Have your hearing tested every 6 to 12 months if you work in noisy surroundings.