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Ears, Nose and Throat
What is an Earache?
An earache can be described as a sharp, stabbing, throbbing or dull pain that causes much discomfort. It is very common in children but can affect people of all ages.
The most common cause of earache is otitis media, infection of the middle ear (the space behind the eardrum) or otitis externa, inflammation of the outer ear canal. Earache is easily treatable and very seldom causes complications.
The most common symptoms and signs of a middle ear infection (otitis media) include:
Fever or high temperature
Temporary loss of hearing
Persistent crying, especially in babies
Symptoms and signs of outer ear infection (otitis externa) include:
Occasionally pus in the ear
Blockage in the ear tube (Eustachian tube)
Damaged or ruptured eardrum
Soap or shampoo lodged in the ear
The diagnosis of earache is based physical examination as well as symptoms presented. Your doctor will examine the outer ear, ear canal and ear drum with an instrument called an otoscope. The examination may also involve the mouth, nose, throat and teeth. In some cases, X-rays may also be ordered.
Help for Earaches
Earache is usually treated with eardrops which contain antibiotics to help fight the infection. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen also provide pain relief. If earache is not that severe, place a warm, damp compress to the outer ear to reduce pain.
Insert some warm (not hot!) olive oil into the ear canal to relieve pain or massage gently under each ear. For more serious episodes of earache, an oral antibiotic together with the eardrops may be prescribed. Children who experience recurring ear infections may have a surgical procedure performed that involves having ear tubes inserted.
More and more people are choosing herbal and homeopathic remedies as a natural alternative to antibiotic treatment of earache. These treatments are safe and gentle on the body’s system and also support overall ear health. Herbs such as Pulsatilla (Pasque Flower) and Echinacea purpurea act as a nerve relaxant and reduce inflammation while also stimulating the immune system. Homeopathic ingredients such as Hepar sulph, Belladonna, Pulsatilla and Levisticum radix treats the symptoms of ear infections.
What is Nasal Congestion?
Congestion is also referred to as a stuffy nose, nasal obstruction or nasal blockage. This condition causes blockage of the nasal passages when the lining of the membranes in the nose become swollen and inflamed.
Nasal congestion is often caused by a viral infection. People who have allergic reactions, colds and flu are no doubt familiar with that feeling of congestion. It can severely affect infants in their first few months of life, by not only causing breathing difficulties but also problems with breastfeeding. It affects speech and hearing and may also cause sleep disorders such snoring and sleep apnea.
Older children who may develop nasal congestion from enlarged adenoids may experience sleep apnea or heart failure, but with surgery, this problem can easily be corrected. Once you have determined the cause of congestion, there are a number of treatment options available.
What is a Sore Throat?
A sore throat is usually due to an infection in the throat area. Sore throat causes are mostly related to cases of pharyngitis or tonsillitis. Aside from pain in the throat area, the sore throat symptoms can also include a reddish appearance or swelling in the throat, ear pain, difficulty swallowing, and a high fever.
As they are often around infections in school and child care, children are more susceptible to contagious illnesses including sore throats versus adolescents and adults. They occur all year long, but particularly during the winter months when colds and flu are more frequent.
Diagnosing a Sore Throat
Sore throat is very common and is almost always self-diagnosed. In cases where a sore throat persists longer than the normal seven day period, or is accompanied by vomiting or fever, you should consult your health practitioner immediately as further diagnosis may be necessary.
What are Sore Throat Causes?
Sore throats may be associated with many medical conditions. Infections of the throat may be either viral or bacterial and are usually very contagious. Approximately 90 to 95% of all sore throats are caused by viruses such as the flu virus, a cold, or infectious mononucleosis (glandular fever).
Other sore throat causes, about 5-10%, are contributed to bacteria such as streptococcus, mycoplasma, or hemophilus. Bacterial sore throats are usually more serious than viral throat infections.
A common cause of bacterial throat infection is a particular strain of streptococcus bacteria of the group "A Streptococcus", and is commonly called strep throat. This specific bacterium can also cause damage to the kidneys and heart valves as well as causing tonsillitis, sinusitis, ear infections, pneumonia, or scarlet fever.