Ear emergencies are any ear damage or injuries that leave hearing loss at risk, especially if left untreated. It may occur in any part of the ear, including the outer ear, middle ear, or inner ear. The outer ear, which is the part that people can see, is also called the pinna. It also includes the ear canal, wherein wax is produced. The middle ear is where sound waves turns into vibrations and is comprised of the eardrum and the ossicles. The inner ear contains the cochlea where the vibrations are turned into nerve signals to the brain.
Causes of Ear Emergencies
Ear emergencies are usually characterized by dizziness, pain, hearing loss, ringing in the ear and ruptured eardrums. The following can cause an ear emergency:
- Inserting objects such as cotton swabs, toothpicks, pens, pins, toys and other objects into the ear
- Sudden changes in pressure, including those caused by an explosion, a blow to the head, change in altitude (flying or scuba diving, or falling while water skiing) or being slapped on the head or ear
- Loud percussions, such as a gun going off
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Emergencies
The ear is a sensitive organ. The slightest damage can be very painful as the ear canal is a lined with thin, sensitive skin.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bruising or redness
- Bleeding from the ear
- Fluid drainage or clear drainage coming from the ear (bran fluid)
- Noises in the ear
- Loss of hearing
- Sensations of objects in the ear
- Visible object in the ear
What NOT to do in Ear Emergencies
It is not always easy to remain calm in any kind of emergency, ear emergencies included. However, as is in any emergency, it is necessary to first remain calm at all times. For all situations that are considered an emergency, call for emergency medical services or go to an emergency room immediately. In cases of ear emergencies, the following is generally NOT recommended to avoid aggravating the injury or damage:
- Do not attempt to insert anything inside the ear canal, whether solid or liquid.
- Do not block any drainage coming from the ear.
- Do not attempt to remove any object from the ear, as it may push any lodged object further inside, whether using tweezers, cotton swab, pin, or any other tool.
There is a variety of ear emergencies that can occur to an individual, including objects lodged in the ear canal, unequal pressure between the ear and the environment, and loud deafening sounds going off. To learn more about how to administer first aid in all kinds of ear emergencies, enroll in First Aid Courses with St Mark James Training.