Ear plugs are a common way to stop water from entering the ears. These plastic plugs are typically used in infants, children, and adults. They can be made of different materials, including soft plastic (sometimes with a hole to allow for drainage).
Ear plugs can get stuck and cause trouble breathing. This usually happens when you put too much pressure on the head. If you can’t remove the plastic from the ear, see your doctor right away.
Ear infections are common. They happen when germs get into the ear, usually from the nose or mouth. They can cause pain, a runny or stuffy nose, and fever.
Ear infections can be caused by a number of things, including:
- Sinus infections
- Earwax blockages
- Ear infections from a foreign object in the ear (from a toy, for example)
- Ear infections from viruses
If you don’t get treatment for an ear infection, it can get worse.
If you have an ear infection, your doctor may want to see your ear to make sure it’s clear and not infected. They can do this by putting a tiny light into your ear.
If an ear is infected, there will be pain and a warm feeling in the ear. You may also have a fever.
If an infection doesn’t get better within a few days, see your doctor.
Ear infections are usually treated with medicine.
Pain in your ear can be caused by a number of things, including:
- A swollen ear
- An ear infection
- Ear wax (which is usually made of fat and mucus)
- A foreign object in your ear
- A middle ear infection
Pain in your ear can be severe. It may feel like a heavy weight in your ear. You may also have a fever, a bad ear odor, and pain when you breathe.
If you can’t get the ear pain to go away, see your doctor. They may want to do an exam. If they can’t figure out what’s causing the pain, they may do a CT scan or an MRI.
An ear piercing (also called a grommet or earloop) is a small hole in the ear that’s usually made with a needle or a hollow needle.
Ear piercings are usually done to help drain fluid from the ear. This is called ear irrigation. It’s done to help treat:
- Ear infections
- Ear trauma
Ear piercings are usually done by a doctor or an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist).
If you have a piercing in your ear, your doctor will want to do an exam. They’ll do this by looking at the hole in the ear.
If there’s a problem with the piercing, they may do an MRI or a CT scan.
An earring is a piece of jewelry that’s put in the ear. There are different types of earrings, including:
- Ear studs. These are the most common type of earrings, and they’re usually made of metal. They’re sometimes called earbob beads.
- Earrings. These are small pieces of jewelry that are placed in the ear. There are different types of earrings, and they’re usually made of metal.
- Earrings with suction cups. These are small suction cups that are placed in the ear.
Earrings can help a child who has a hearing problem or who has trouble hearing.
What should I expect?
If you have a blocked ear, your doctor may want you to have a cleaning. The cleaning is done by putting a small tube into your ear. The tube is attached to a device called a laryngoscope. It lets your doctor see inside your ear.
Doctors usually do the cleaning when they do a laryngoscopy.
When you have ear cleaning, you may feel pain and pressure in your ear. You may also have a fever.
After the cleaning, you may get a small bandage on your ear lobe. The bandage will protect your ear from germs.
If you have a blocked ear, you may need ear irrigation. This is done by putting a small tube into your ear. The tube is connected to a device called an irrigation catheter.
The irrigation catheter lets water or a medicine into your ear. This helps to drain fluid from your ear.
The irrigation catheter is usually put in your ear when you have a laryngoscopy.
You may feel heat in the ear. Some people also have a small amount of fluid in the ear. This fluid is usually yellow.
If your ear is infected, you may also have pain and swelling.
Ear cleaning and irrigation can be uncomfortable, and they can take a little time.
Ear wax removal
If you use a hearing aid, your doctor may want to remove wax from your ear.
To remove wax, your doctor will do an exam. They’ll put a small tube into your ear. This lets them see your ear wax.
The doctor will then use a tool called a suction device to remove the wax. The suction device is attached to a tube. The tube is connected to the irrigation catheter.
The suction device is used to remove the wax from your ear.
Getting your ears cleaned and irrigated can be uncomfortable. You may also have a small amount of fluid in your ears. This fluid is usually yellow.
After the procedure, you may get a small bandage on your ear lobe.
Ear jewelry removal
If you wear jewelry, your doctor may want to remove it. If you aren’t a good candidate for ear cleaning, they may also want to remove it.
To remove ear jewelry, your doctor will do an exam. They’ll put a small tube into your ear. This lets them see your ear jewelry.
The doctor will then use a tool called a suction device to remove the jewelry. The suction device is attached to a tube.
The suction device is used to remove the jewelry.
If you wear a muffs, your doctor may want to remove it.
To remove a muffs, your doctor will do an exam. They’ll put a small tube into your ear. This lets them see your ear muffs.
The doctor will then use a tool called a suction device to remove the muffs.
The suction device is attached to a tube.
How do I get ready for an ear exam?
- Tell your doctor if you’re taking any medicines. This includes any over-the-counter medicine.
- Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant.
If you need an ear exam, you may be asked to do some tests. These tests can help your doctor find out if you need to see a specialist for ear problems.
You may also find it helpful to keep a diary of what happens during your appointment. This lets your doctor see if anything is going on that’s causing your ear problem.
You may want to keep a diary of how you feel during your appointment. This lets your doctor see how your ears are doing.
If you’re having problems with your ears, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery has a questionnaire that may help you figure out what to do.
This questionnaire can be found here.
If you need a hearing test, you can call the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at 8004227111.
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