The ear is a complex organ, and though an acute ear trauma is quite uncommon, an injury can severely mar your quality of life. Sometimes severe infections, occupational settings, road mishaps, sporting events or calamities like a blast injury can cause severe ear trauma and may require immediate assistance.
Let’s find out more about ear traumas and ways to deal with one!
What is Ear Trauma?
The ear is not just a very complex organ, but a significantly sensitive one too. The ear cells are susceptible to traumas and injuries, and such damages to the ear can easily cause temporary or in some cases even permanent hearing impairment.
Causes of Ear Trauma
Traumas to the ear could be external, limited to the outer ear, at times penetrating to the middle ear and though seldom, but in some cases to the inner ear.
While injuries to the outer ear are mostly sustainable and can find a cure through first aid and when significant, through cosmetic surgeries; trauma to the middle ear may not always be so amenable to treatment.
Outer ear traumas can be resultant of laceration or complete removal of the external ear caused by a sports or road injury, or injuries sustained due to blunt force that causes bruising and hematoma. Sometimes, such damages may penetrate to the middle ear causing rupturing of the eardrum and resulting in temporary or permanent, partial or total hearing loss.
Middle ear traumas are mostly caused by foreign elements entering the ear, such as putting pointed articles such as pencil, finger or at times even earbuds, in the ear. Sometimes, activities such as diving or flying, too, cause abrupt changes in pressure, damaging the external canal or rupturing the tympanic membrane or the delicate ear bones that assist in the production of sound. In fact, in most cases, since the middle ear is the central part that aids in hearing, a trauma to this part of the ear can lead to irreversible hearing impairment.
On the other hand, inner ear traumas usually limit to either exposure to severe infections or very high decibel sounds. Protected by a bone structure, the inner ear is as difficult to cure as it is to injure. Occupational settings that cause excessive and high decibel noise may cause poor hearing protection and over time may lead to ear traumas and hearing loss. Since the inner ear contains the “peripheral vestibular system”, it plays a critical role in keeping the body in balance. Injury to the inner ear may, hence, lead to balance issues and vertigo (a spinning feeling that one gets when the inner ear is damaged!).
Tips to Deal with Ear Trauma
Traumas of the Outer Ear
For injuries to the external ear, the following can help.
a) If there is minor bruising or bleeding, press a sterile gauge against the wound to stop the bleeding.
b) Wash and clean the wound with clean water and apply an antiseptic ointment.
c) If the wound is deep, visit a doctor after the above first-aid steps.
d) Avoid moving the head too much if you feel there may be a further injury to your middle or inner ears.
Traumas of the Middle Ear
For pain associated with middle ear trauma, here are some quick tips that can help alleviate the discomfort and pain:
a) Try some over-the-counter, non-prescription, pain reliever such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol.
b) If you are sure that the middle ear trauma does not involve an eardrum perforation, try dripping some warm olive oil into the ear canal. Place a cotton ball to block the opening.
c) Try alternating a warm compress with a cold one.
d) Sleeping on the other side (so that the painful side is up!) can help manage middle ear pain.
Some naturopathic remedies also exist for the treatment of ear traumas, though their efficacy is a point of much argument and counterarguments. If you or a loved one is dealing with an ear trauma, you may try one of these remedies:
i. Drip tea tree oil or garlic oil into the ear canal.
ii. Apply ginger oil to the ear pinna.
iii. You may also want to visit an ENT specialist for a myringotomy – a common natural technique that involves making a small incision to the eardrum to relieve the pressure inside the middle ear and allow drainage of any pus that may have accumulated inside it. This technique is especially useful in the treatment of bacterial infections in the middle and inner ears.
Some advocates also suggest the use of Chiropractic treatment for dealing with middle ear infections, though this technique may pose some risks of injury.
Dealing with ear traumas may be a helpful way to alleviate some of the pain and discomfort associated with it.
Medical Disclaimer: The information and reference materials contained here are intended solely for the general information of the reader. Patients and consumers should review the information carefully with their professional health care provider. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. You should consult your physician before beginning a new nutritional or fitness program.
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