Search Encyclopedia:    
List of Topics Print This Page
 

Ear emergencies


Symptoms:
Do Not:
  • DO NOT block any drainage coming from the ear.
  • DO NOT try to clean or wash the inside of the ear canal.
  • DO NOT put any liquid into the ear.
  • DO NOT attempt to remove the object by probing with a cotton swab, pin, or any other tool. To do so will risk pushing the object farther into the ear and damaging the middle ear.
  • DO NOT reach inside the ear canal with tweezers.
Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if:

The following symptoms, which may indicate significant trauma to the ear, should be evaluated by a physician:

  • Pain in the ear
  • Ringing sounds
  • Dizziness (vertigo) 
  • Hearing loss
  • Drainage or blood from the ear
  • Recent blow to your ear or head
Prevention:
  • Never put anything in the ear canal without first consulting a health care provider.
  • Never thump the head to try to correct an ear problem.
  • Teach children not to put things in their ears.
  • Avoid cleaning the ear canals altogether.
  • After an ear injury, avoid nose blowing and getting water in the injured ear.
  • Treat ear infections promptly.

If you tend to feel pain and pressure when flying, drink a lot of fluid before and during the flight. Avoid the use of alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco on the day of the flight. Chew gum, suck on hard candy, or yawn during take-off and landing. Talk to your doctor about taking a decongestant or using a nasal spray before you fly.

References:

Thomas SH, White BA. Foreign bodies. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 57.

Byyny RL, Shockley LW. Scuba diving and dysbarism. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 141.


Review Date: 8/12/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

   View History
  Ear emergencies

   
   

 

About UPHS   Contact Us   Site Map   Privacy Statement   Legal Disclaimer   Terms of Use

The University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA 1-800-789-PENN © 2014, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania