We have all at some point in our lives suffered from an ear infection. They most often affect us when we’re young or run-down. In fact children will get an ear infection two out of three times they get a cold! This is because their small ears and Eustachian tubes don’t drain fluid as well as fully developed adult ears. This fluid provides a rich breeding ground for bacteria and a child’s immune system is not able to fend it off.
Ear infections occurs when bacteria enters the body through a tear in the ear’s skin. Whether this be in the outer, middle or inner ear, or the eardrum itself. Such infections are characterised by pain, inflammation, warmth, discolouration and odorous discharge. To treat it antibacterial medication is administered either topically or orally.
2. Swimmer’s Ear
This kind of ear infection is an example of an infection of the outer ear. The skin lining the ear canal provides protection against infection. But, when this skin barrier is compromised, bacteria is liable to invade the ear and create infection. In the case of ‘swimmer’s ear’, its cause is an excess of moisture trapped inside the ear canal and it is characterised by itching, swelling and discharge.
When water enters the ear canal during swimming, especially in a chlorinated pool, it causes the normally acidic environment of the ear canal to lose its equilibrium and change, which allows bacteria to invade the ear. Chemicals in the pool such as chlorine can also cause the skin of the ear to crack, once again inviting infection.
It is treated through the use of topical antibiotics. The area must also be kept dry.
- CNH / Chondrodermatitis.
What is CNH? CNH, also known as Chondrodermatitis Nodularis Helicis or Winkler’s Disease is an ear pressure sore which forms on the helix or ante-helix of the ear. It most commonly affects the elderly but can occur at any age, especially of you are a habitual side sleeper.
The reason CNH manifests is the same reason bed sores occur. The friction and pressure of the skin rubbing against the pillow night after night eventually leads to a breakdown and degradation of the ear’s skin. In younger people the body is able to repair itself quite quickly and therefore this damage never becomes a problem. However, if you spend prolonged periods on the ear, or you are elderly and therefore unable to repair the damage as quickly, as pressure sore will form.
This pressure sore will be painful to the touch, discoloured and may present some discharge. Crucially, unlike swimmers ear, the condition is unlikely to resolve itself without intervention. This is because the root cause is not bacterial. Eventually your bodies defences won’t catch up to CNH, because there’s nothing to catch up to. The only way to effectively treat Chondrodermatitis is to remove the source of friction and pressure.
Therefore, to treat this condition, a ‘pillow with a hole’ is needed.
Tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing sound in one or both ears. However, the sound is not uniform and may present itself different to different people. Some people describe hearing a buzzing, clicking, roaring or even hissing sound. It may or may not pulse to the beat of your heart. It may also either be high or low pitched. Tinnitus can resolve itself spontaneously but otherwise is notoriously difficult to treat as it is often a neurological rather than mechanical fault. Yet in some cases sound therapy or tinnitus retraining therapy can have good results.