To understand how earaches begin, we must understand the Eustachian tube. This tube is a narrow channel which connects the inside of the ear to the back of the throat, just above the soft palate. In a healthy ear, this tube allows for drainage, preventing fluid in the middle ear from building up and bursting the thin ear drum. Ideally, fluid drains down the tube, assisted by tiny hair cells, and is swallowed.
In an unhealthy scenario, however, the tube may become partially blocked, allowing fluid to accumulate in the middle ear. This traps bacteria, which then multiply and lead to an infection. Some symptoms that can accompany an ear infection include:
- Feeling of fullness or pressure
- Hearing problems
- Dizziness, loss of balance
- Nausea, vomiting
- Ear drainage
If you think you or your child has an ear infection, talk to one of the friendly doctors at Alexandria Otolaryngology Associates. For more information on earaches and their causes, take a look at our digital library.