Fluid in Ear: Diagnosis and Cure
Fluid in the ear is caused due to chronic ear infection. Ear infections are common ailments among toddlers and children as they have less developed immune system. A tubular passage known as Eustachian tube connects the nasal tubes to the middle ear, the flow of fluids takes place through this passage. In cold weather, blockage in this passage may be caused due to cough and cold. Thus the fluids accumulate and create favorable conditions for bacterial growth. This leads to infection in the middle ear which is commonly known as otitis media.
Normally, the only fluid that comes out of ear is ear wax but if the color of the fluid is white, yellow or bloody in appearance then it may be due to ear infection. This is caused due to the piling up of fluids inside the middle ear which creates pressure on the eardrum. As a result it breaks out and ooze out of the ear. This may affect the hearing capability in child and also cause tremendous pain. However, this generally happens in severe cases.
Foreign object – If some foreign object which is reactive in nature such as metal or other organic substances remains inside ear, it may lead to infection. As these substances react with air and form oxides which in turn react with the inner walls of the ear and dissolve the epithelial lining. This provides an easy entrance to the microorganisms. This may lead to infection and cause discomfort. Bacteria cause inflammation and lead to blockage.
Head injury – A severe head injury may cause damage to the surrounding tissues in the ear leading to swelling and narrowing of the Eustachian tubes. As a result the passage becomes congested and the flow of fluids becomes abnormal.
Noise pollution – The eardrum is surrounded by vibratory bones that amplify the sound and aid in hearing. Long exposures to loud noises may affect these sensitive structures and impair the hearing process. This may also cause in tearing of the eardrum and oozing of fluid.
Change in environmental pressure – While the plane takes off, it pulls you up against gravity, this creates a tremendous pressure on your body including your ears. Eardrums are very sensitive to high pressure, they disrupt and bleed in these conditions.
Cotton swabs – If you use unsterilized cotton swabs, chances are high that you catch infection in the middle ear. As they may be contaminated and carry harmful bacterial strains.
Eczema or any other skin disease – Eczema is a skin condition in which the skin becomes itchy and rashes appear on the skin. Pus formation may take place in the boils which may eventually infect the middle ear.
Swimmer’s ears – While swimming, water may cause irritation in the ear routes if it is not treated properly. It may also lead to rashes and irritation in the inner ear canal.
Although, ear infections are very common in children but it may get alarming when
- Except ear wax there are other fluidic discharges or bleeding is observed
- In case of head injury if you observe a discharge coming out of your ears, a proper diagnosis is recommended
- If you observe oozing of fluids along with popping sounds in the ear
Tympanometry is conducted by the ENT specialist in case of a discharge from the ear. Talking and swallowing is not recommended during this test. An instrument similar to otoscope is inserted in the ear, it measures the pressure built up inside the ear. In case of ear infection, due to stiffening and contraction of tympanic membrane, abnormal sounds are recorded with the help of tympanogram.
Also, if you find flaky matter of blood or any discharge on the pillow of your child it might be the ear fluid.
Prevention and Cure:
- Avoid listening to music through headphones for long hours and abstain from borrowing earplugs from others
- Avoid loud music and protect your ears from noise pollution by covering them with thick cloth
- Cough and cold may cause ear infection, take precautions while you have a running nose
- Always use sterilized ear buds
- Wear a shower cap to protect your ears from Swimmer’s ears ailment
- Visit a doctor if your fluids continue to flow from your ears and don’t cease
Antihistamines such as Benadryl are prescribed by the doctors to be taken during ear infection. Decongestants like pseudoephedrine are used to dilute the blocked fluids. Doctors may choose to execute myringotomy which is a surgical process in prolonged case of infection. In this, a small cut is made in the eardrum while placing a small tube to drain the fluids. Steroids and antibiotics are administered to reduce the infection, but they are avoided in case of children.