Our ears are very important to us. We Listen with them. They help us in communicating with others, various sounds in the surroundings around us. Ears help us to hear when danger is approaching , so we can get to safety quickly, especially while crossing a busy road.
Nowadays ears are important to us with the onset of smartphones and music. We use our ears for relaxation and entertainment.
However, As much as people take care of their eyes, we do not bother about our ears. We listen to loud sounds in public or with headphones, we attempt to clean our ears on our own, put oil and various substances in the ears.
Common problems of the ears:
Wax: Wax is formed naturally in the ear by glands similar to oil glands in the skin. It is a mechanism of protection from dirt, foreign bodies and pollutants.
Wax naturally comes out. It is not required to clean it on your own.
Sometimes wax accumulates in the ear canal and causes deafness, pain and sometimes dizziness. This is normal for some people who have a narrow or twisted ear canal. Sometimes the wax itself is hard. It’s just a tendency for wax to collect for some people. They should not attempt to clean it on their own as this could lead to complications but to consult their local ENT doctor
Fungus: In case of damp weather, or moisture or instillation of oil or ear drops or self medication, fungus grows in the ear. This fungus is similar to the mold found on stale bread and food.
It can cause pain, blocking of ear and discharge.
Fungus can be removed by your doctor by syringing or under the microscope. Sometimes you may need 2 or more visits to the doctor to clean up your ear as fungus tends to grow again.
Insects: The ear canal is small. Sometimes small insects like ants, cockroaches, spiders, flies, etc can make their way into your ear . The humming of their wings and wriggling can be quite distressing
Cockroach and beetle legs have sharp spines which can scratch.
In that case don’t panic. Don’t pour oil or water or anything in your ear or attempt to pull them out. That can worsen the problem or cause injury.
If they are alive shine a torch light in the ear. Most insects are attracted by light and will come out easily
Maggots: In people with poor hygiene, terminally ill patients, sometimes flies enter the ear and lay eggs.
The maggots which hatch can cause pain and irritation. They can be removed by proper treatment
Consult your doctor immediately
Pus from the ear: This happens for people with colds, when the cold reaches the space behind the ears. With proper medicines it should clear up. Always consult your doctor, especially for small children
Foreign bodies; This is common in small children, mentally retarded people, etc Common things are:
- Seeds of fruits, like dry peas, peanut, tamarind seeds, wheat, riceetc
- rubbers, pen, pencil, stones
- small toys, thermacol, etc
- Beads and decorative jewellery
- The deadliest are small button cells of battery operated toys. The alkali in them can eat away tissue and bone and create a nasty situation.
- Adults commonly have cotton, sticks, etc in their ears.
Sometimes inert non living foreign bodies can sit in the ear for years together without harm and are discovered incidentally
Deafness: There are a lot of reasons for deafness. wax, colds, etc
Consult your doctor immediately if you have sudden loss of hearing. Medication helps in cases of nerve deafness.
Dizziness and Tinnitus: There are various reasons for this which your doctor will help you.
Here are some Do’s and don’ts about the ears:
- Pour oil inside your ears. It’s a common traditional custom to put oil in your ears, one of grandma’s remedies. However, the oil will sit in a nook or corner in the ear canal and get infected with fungus, which takes a long time to treat.
- Insert ear buds inside your ears. People use keys, matchsticks, hairpins which are equally bad. You can damage your ear drum, hearing mechanism and go deaf. You can get a nasty boil in the ear canal which is extremely painful. In diabetic patients with uncontrolled sugar this can spread to the skull bones and can be fatal. This condition is known as Skull Base Osteomyelitis, formerly Malignant Otitis Externa
- Listen to loud noises for prolonged periods of time. Sounds around 120 decibels are known to damage the delicate structures in the inner ear and the nerves for hearing.
- Be aware of your surroundings. While walking in public, on the road don’t keep your headphones on
- Consult your doctor for earache, pus coming from the ear, hearing loss, foreign bodies, giddiness etc.
- protect your ear from water especially in the rains
- follow the instructions on use of medicines and follow up regularly