Ear infections and earache are common problems, and should be dealt with promptly to avoid complications. With the rise of covid, tinnitus has become more prevalent in America, and is one of the leading ear problems which can have a huge psychological impact too. As with every health problem, ear related issues can also be treated, if not cured. This article is only a guide on the different treatment options for the most commonly encountered ear problems in America, and those who experience any of these issues should seek professional help before embarking on any treatment.
What are the most common ear problems?
Before we dive into how ear problems should be treated, let’s run through a list of the most common ear problems in America.
Around 20 million Americans are estimated to be suffering with tinnitus, which is characterized as an internally generated sound, usually in the form of humming or buzzing. It often disturbs sleep and psychological stability of patients.
This is age-related hearing loss. Like the rest of the body, the ear’s functional ability deteriorates with age. Though this is incredibly common among the elderly, it’s important to treat the hearing loss so that standard of living is not compromised in elderly hard of hearing individuals.
3. Meniere’s Disease
This is a disease of the inner ear, which affects not only your ears but also balance. Meniere’s disease causes tetrad of symptoms: vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and a pressure sensation deep inside the ear. These symptoms all come at once during, what is called, a Meniere’s attack which usually lasts 2-3 hours.
4. Ear Infections
Infections of the ear can occur in anyone, but are more common in those who are immunocompromised, like diabetics or HIV infected individuals, and hearing aid wearers. Causative organisms of ear infections range from many types of bacteria to different fungi species.
Ear Problems Treated Using Hearing Aids
Hearing aids help those suffering from any problem with their hearing sense. Whether they can’t hear properly, as seen in the hearing loss of presbycusis and meniere’s disease, or they are experiencing tinnitus.
Hearing Aids For Presbycusis
Since presbycusis is essentially hearing loss, for which the best treatment is hearing aids. The elderly tend not to notice their own hearing difficulties so it’s important you communicate with the hard of hearing in a caring manner and help them buy the best hearing aids.
Social isolation often comes with this type of hearing loss, which can be detrimental to aged individuals as they already feel outdated and sidelined. To treat any loneliness related to hearing loss, it’s important to make an effort and, of course, treat the hearing loss with hearing aids.
Hearing Aids To Treat Tinnitus
While hearing aids can’t completely treat tinnitus, they can help mask the internally sourced noise. The annoying low frequency ringing or buzzing sound is drowned by the amplification of all other sounds. The value of hearing aids in treating tinnitus is based on clinical evidence, and are two-fold: 1. the awareness the patient has of tinnitus is reduced 2. communication is much better with hearing aids, as the noise of tinnitus is masked.
Treatment of Meniere’s Disease
While there is no cure for Meniere’s disease, it has 4 main associated symptoms, outlined above, all of which can be treated by different measures. Let’s look at how the main symptoms of Meniere’s disease can be treated, one by one.
This is treated by hearing aids, which come in a huge variety of forms. OTC hearing aids are recommended for meniere’s disease. OTC (over-the-counter) hearing aids are cheaper and provide excellent control to the user over adjusting the hearing device, which is very valuable if you’re suffering from an ear disorder which can cause fluctuations in hearing loss, like Meniere’s disease.
The nausea and vomiting due to vertigo, or dizziness, can be very straining on patients. Drug therapies are often prescribed by a doctor to control nausea and vomiting. Antihistamines is a popular class of drugs used in the treatment of Meniere’s disease, or control of vomiting during attacks. Prochlorperazine is a stronger drug and used to relieve more severe nausea and vomiting experienced in an attack of Meniere’s disease.
This annoying ringing or buzzing sound in the ear cannot be fully treated, but the noise can be reduced significantly. A treatment used for tinnitus is hearing aids, which masks the noise by amplifying all other sounds and drowning out the tinnitus. Apart from this other treatments include tinnitus counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for tinnitus. A recent treatment introduced is tinnitus retraining therapy, in which your brain basically is trained to ‘ignore’ the tinnitus.
Ear Infection Treatment
Infections of the ear can affect anywhere from the outer ear to the inner ear. Of course, the deeper the infection the more difficult it is to treat and the greater the risk of ear-related complications. In fact, ear infections can even become life threatening in some cases.
For most ear infections, the severity is assessed by a doctor and usually waitful watching is advised along with warm compresses over the ear and analgesics (paracetamol, usually).
For persistent or more problematic ear infections, your doctor will prescribe you any of the following:
- Antibiotic ear drops, or oral antibiotics. They are used to treat bacterial ear infections.
- Steroid ear drops, to reduce inflammation.
- Antifungal ear drops. Immunocompromised patients are more prone to fungal infections all over the body, including the ear. Antifungal treatments are used for only fungal ear infections.
It’s advisable that you consult a doctor or your local pharmacist, if you have a fever accompanied with ear pain, or any ear discomfort. Treatment for ear infections can only be given by a medical health professional.If you are suffering from any of these common ear problems, it’s important to follow the guidelines above and not to try any risky home remedies to treat ear problems. Hearing is a very valuable sense, and shouldn’t be compromised. Buy OTC hearing aids right away if you are experiencing hearing loss, so that you can prevent further deterioration of your hearing.