Pain in the Ear | NIH News in Health

October 2018

Fending off Ear Infections

Being up all night with a child crying from the pain of an ear infection can be a nightmare. But it’s not uncommon. Most children in developed countries get at least one ear infection by the age of five.

Most ear infections happen in the middle ear, the part of the ear behind the eardrum. The middle ear is connected to the upper part of the throat by the eustachian tube. It normally lets fresh air into your middle ear and lets fluid drain out.

After a cold or other infection, the virus or bacteria that caused the illness can spread to the middle ear. When this happens, the eustachian tube can swell up or become blocked with mucus. This can trap the germs and cause an ear infection. The trapped germs can cause more swelling and fluid buildup. That’s what causes the pain of an ear infection.

Why do so many young children get ear infections? “In younger kids, the eustachian tube, as well as the immune systemThe system that protects your body from invading viruses, bacteria, and other microscopic threats., are still developing. Some kids might also have an underactive immune system that can’t fight the infection,” explains Dr. Michael Hoa, an ear, nose, and throat specialist and researcher at NIH.

In older children and adults, the eustachian tube is large and slanted to drain fluid from the middle ear. In younger children, this tube is narrower and more level, so it’s more likely to get blocked.

If the pain won’t go away or your child has fluid coming out of their ear, you should visit a doctor. Ear infections can also make a child fussy, cause a fever, or create trouble hearing.

Many ear infections don’t need to be treated. They often clear up on their own.

“There is a huge push not to overprescribe antibiotics,” Hoa says. Bacteria can become resistant to the effects of these drugs. So doctors try not to give them, except for severe cases.

When drugs are necessary, it’s important that they be taken for the full time your doctor tells you. But it’s not always easy to get young children to take medications.

A recent NIH-funded study tested whether antibiotics could be taken for less than the standard 10–day treatment. Unfortunately, the shortened treatment didn’t work as well and had no benefits.

NIH-funded researchers are now looking for better ways to treat an ear infection. One group is testing injectable gels to deliver medication right into the ear canal.

One major cause of ear infections is a type of bacteria called Haemophilus influenzae, or H. influenzae. These bacteria can cluster together to make a biofilm, a thin, slimy coating that your body has a hard time getting rid of. Even antibiotics can be ineffective against them. Ear infections that keep coming back often involve biofilms.

A vaccine introduced in 1987 already prevents ear infections caused by one strain of H. influenzae. Researchers are working on developing vaccines to protect against other strains. They’re also looking at what specific nutrients H. influenzae needs to grow the biofilms. Restricting those nutrients may be a new way to fight these bacteria.

If your child has repeated ear infections or trouble hearing, your doctor may suggest draining your child’s ear with small tubes to help maintain a healthy environment.

Ear infections aren’t contagious. But there are things you can do to lower your chances of getting one. See the Wise Choices box for tips on preventing ear infections.

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How Does Acupuncture Work?

Can you use pain to stop pain? Take a closer look at the history and benefits of acupuncture.

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Mind Over Matter: Prescription Pain Medications (Opioids)

 

Long-term opioid use changes the way nerve cells work in the brain. This happens even to people who take opioids for a long time to treat pain, as prescribed by their doctor. The nerve cells grow used to having opioids around, so that when they are taken away suddenly, the person can have lots of unpleasant feelings and reactions. These are known as withdrawal symptoms.

Have you ever had the flu? You probably had aching, fever, sweating, shaking, or chills. These are similar to withdrawal symptoms, but withdrawal symptoms are much worse.

That is why use of opioids should be carefully watched by a doctor—so that a person knows how much to take and when, as well as how to stop taking them to lessen the chances of withdrawal symptoms. Eventually, the cells will work normally again, but that takes time.

Someone who is addicted to opioids has other problems as well. For example, they keep taking the drug even though it may be having harmful effects on their life and their health. They have strong urges to take the drug—called cravings—and they no longer feel satisfied by natural rewards (like chocolate, TV, or a walk on the beach).

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What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common type of arthritis and often affects the wrists, hands, knees, ankles, and feet. Find out how this disease damages your joints and makes it painful to move them.

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Dr. Sletten Discussing Central Sensitization Syndrome (CSS)

Mayo Clinic’s Christopher Sletten, Ph.D., ABPP discussing Central Sensitization Syndrome, which is the prevailing theory of the cause of chronic pain & other chronic symptoms. A patient and/or provider understanding of this process can lead to seeking appropriate treatments including the Pain Rehab Center (PRC) at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus.

Learn more about the PRC program in Florida: http://mayocl.in/prcfl

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Plantar Fasciitis-Mayo Clinic

There’s nothing like foot pain to make you crazy. That’s what an expert at Mayo Clinic says he hears from patients who have a condition called plantar fasciitis [fashee-EYE-tis]. It’s very common and can make walking across the room a miserable experience. What can you do about it?

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Bone Marrow Stem Cell Treatment (BMAC) for Knee Osteoarthritis – Mayo Clinic

Shane Shapiro, M.D., orthopedic physician at Mayo Clinic in Florida, discusses a regenerative medicine clinical research trial to treat knee arthritis, which is the bone marrow stem cell treatment (BMAC) for knee osteoarthritis.

Mayo Clinic and the Mayo Center for Regenerative Medicine is studying biologically based non-surgical treatments for osteoarthritis. One such treatment is the harvesting of the patient’s own stem cells from their bone marrow.

“In our procedure we draw cellular rich bone marrow from both sides of the pelvis. We then filter the resulting product and concentrate the stem cells and their corresponding growth factors. Using an ultrasound to image the knee joint, we are then able to precisely inject the cells into the arthritic knee. We are currently demonstrating that this procedure is safe and can relieve pain. We also hope to be able to slow the progression of the degenerative joint disease and perhaps one day regrow cartilage in the arthritic joint.”

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See video of this procesure here: http://youtu.be/yUfuhLOgeBw (WARNING: graphic due to the nature of actual surgery footage)

Learn more about the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine here: http://goo.gl/rnRdtU

 

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About HealthLynked

Improving healthcare is the mission of HealthLynked. HealthLynked focuses on improving healthcare services for patients as well as physicians. Our technology shortens wait time with online scheduling of appointments, Real-time appointments by local providers and provides easy access to yours as well as your family’s updated medical records.

Appointments can be comfortably made online and providing your healthcare provider access to your medical files. The website also makes it possible to link together family members and provide access to critical information in case of an emergency

Download APP Now

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