Ear pain generally occurs in children, but it can also occur in adults. Ear pain that starts inside the ear is known as primary or 1degree otalgia, whereas pain that begins outside the ear is known as secondary or 2-degree otalgia.
Generally, ear pain can originate gradually or suddenly. The pain can be sharp, dull, and can be temporary or on and off. Usually, the pain feels in only one ear, but sometimes it can occur in both ears.
Karna Roga, according to Ayurveda can be caused by one of four imbalances:
- Vata: Imbalances of Vata can cause thin discharge from the ear, dry ear wax, sharp pain, abnormal sound in the ear (tinnitus), and deafness.
- Pitta: Imbalances of pitta leads to inflammation, yellow discharge, redness, tearing, and burning sensation.
- Kapha: Imbalances of Kapha causes white or slurry discharge, abnormal sound, severe itching, swelling, and mild pain.
- Sannipatataja: This happens when there is an imbalance of all doshas Vata, pitta, and Kapha; the discharge may be colored depending on the predominant dosha.
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Pain can occur with
- Drainage from the ear
- Loss of appetite (in children)
- Excessive crying (in children)
- Hearing loss
- Difficulty in chewing
- Jaw pain
- Throbbing pain
Possible causes of ear pain include
- Blockage in Eustachian tube causing a build-up in pressure and pain
- By scratching the ear with a finger
- Middle ear infections like otitis media ( build-up of fluid in the middle ear)
- Children are more susceptible to the infection because their Eustachian tubes are smaller and straight
- Sinus infectionSore throat
- Tooth infection
- Swimmer’s ear
- Buildup of earwax
- Otitis externa ( infection of the outer ear)
- Ruptured eardrum
- Altitude pressure changes (barotrauma)
- Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ, or problems with the joint that connects your jaw to the side of your head)
- Arthritis of the jaw
- Ear infections usually aren’t the main cause of ear pain in adults. Rather, the pain may stem from a problem such as TMJ.
How Is Ear Pain Diagnosed?
On basis of symptoms and history of the patient, a doctor can diagnose ear pain. By examining your ears, throat, and nose with an otoscope (an instrument) diagnosis can be made. With the help of an otoscope redness and other signs can be evaluated to find the cause of ear pain.
The otoscope can be used to see if the eardrum is moving normally or not.
Prognosis of Ear Pain
The prognosis of ear pain depends on the cause. For example, ear infections tend to go away on their own within one or two weeks.
If the eardrum is ruptured or damaged it is also likely to heal on its own within a few months depending on the injury. The prognosis is good except for, long-term hearing loss and problems like vertigo and giddiness can occur.
The ayurvedic management of ear infection comprises finding the vitiated dosha and restoring it to bring balance in the body. Simple aahar, vihar, and aushadh can help manage the disease. The aahar and vihar description for the treatment of ear infection are given below:
Diet Recommendation (AAHAR)
A diet that does not imbalance the Kapha dosha, should be followed, as there is the involvement of Kapha dosha in ear problems. The following dietary guidelines must be followed: –
- Sour foods are restricted as it vitiates the Kapha dosha. These include all sour fruits and curd.
- Fruits like cucumbers, papaya, bananas, watermelons, and oranges must be avoided because these increase the chance of catching a common cold. This can increase the ear problem. All refrigerated and chilled food must be avoided for the same reason.
- Onion, ginger, and garlic should be given to the patient during ear problems.
- Turmeric also helps in treating ear infections and should be used for making meals.
- Breastfeeding practice for infants
- Avoid refined and processed food
Lifestyle Changes (VIHAR)
- Keep the ears warm with the help of massage.
- Massage this area while opening and closing the mouth.
- Increase the intake of Vitamin C and zinc. Vitamin C helps in combating infection by boosting immunity. Consumption of Zinc also reduces ear infection
- Avoid smoking as well as exposure to a chain smoker, since smoke can block Eustachian tubes and cause hardening
- Maintain good hygiene, avoid chilled food items. Wash your hands regularly. Avoid touching your eyes and nose unnecessarily.
- We have some beneficial Herbs for the treatment of ear infections and aches include Bael, holy basil, neem, garlic. Medicines made up of these herbs can be used to fight ear infections.
- The Shatkarma procedure, neti, i.e., rinsing of the nasal passages with a mild, saltwater solution, which removes accumulated Kapha and pollutants can also help relieve ear infection.
Karna Purana word is derived from the Sanskrit word. It is an Ayurvedic procedure of instilling warm oil into the ear canals. It can be performed daily as a ritual, this self-care practice works as restoring medicine to maintain optimal health of the ears and jaw.
Ayurvedic ear cleansing can also be done in a more therapeutic sense to pacify vitiated Vata dosha due to aggravation brought on by cold and windy weather, traveling, overstimulation.
According to Ayurveda, the ears are a natural place in the body where vata resides. It is considered to be rough (harsh), highly mobile, cold, and dry, and these qualities of vata dosha are easily unbalanced through daily modern life.
The antidote for vitiated vata dosha is Karna Purana, which balances the aggravated Vata Dosha by bringing in opposing warm, moist, and smooth.
In the following diseases, Karna Purana helps:
- Blockage due to earwax
- Wax removal
- Hearing loss
- Swimmer’s ear
- Migraine (Ardhavbhedhak)
- Pain in the neck
- Ear congestion
- Meniere’s disease
- Balances other body disorders
- Jaw pain
- Pain disorders
- Weakness in the acoustic nerve
- General body ache
- Neurological disorders
Home Remedies and Alternative and Complementary Therapies
- Many people experience earache and muffling due to sudden changes in air pressure, like when they are traveling in a plane, diving to the bottom of a sea bed, taking an elevator.
- When this happens to someone, try swallowing repeatedly, for example, by chewing gum or sucking on hard candy, this can help clear your ears. This type of ear pain is usually not permanent and doesn’t cause long-lasting problems.
- A cold compress can also help relieve earaches. For this, place a cold pack on the affected side of the ear for about 10 to 20 minutes. Hot packs also help to ease the pain.
- Stress reduction techniques and mouth guards can be helpful in temporomandibular joint disorder.
- Instead of lying flat in the supine position, try resting with your head propped up on a pillow. This can help relieve the pressure in the middle ear.
Prevention of Ear Pain
- There are some techniques you can do to decrease your chance of ear injuries and ear infections as earache is not always preventable.
- Dry your ears thoroughly after bathing, showering, and especially after swimming. Keep all foreign objects away from your ears. You can use custom-fitted swim molds while swimming. You can also wear earplugs and a bathing cap.
- Children should get the pneumococcal vaccine timely since middle ear infections are mainly caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumonia
Dr. Vaidya Karanvir Singh is the younger Vaidya in Chandigarh Ayurved & Panchakarma Centre. He is the fourth generation in his family who is practicing as a general consultant in Ayurved & Panchakarma treatment at Chandigarh. In his practice, he had treated more than 1 Lakh Plus patients worldwide.