Ear troubles

In my previous blog we looked at ear health, how to take care of our ears and how to protect them. 

In today’s blog post I want to look at some of the ear troubles (infections and other issues) that can affect our hearing and our health.

First up is ear infections.  Many children (and adults) suffer from / had swimmer’s ear (external otitis).  This is commonly preceded by an upper respiratory infection or allergy; mostly dairy produce.  Symptoms range from fever, discharge from the ear, pain and swelling, slight fever and red, throbbing ear when touched.

Another infection is middle ear infection (otitis media).  This infection develops behind the eardrum, when bacteria or viruses get into this space.  Symptoms like earache, sharp, dull and/or throbbing pain, feeling of fullness in the ear and a fever, can often occur.

Then there are various forms of dizziness.  Vertigo (faintness or light-headedness) occurs when there is a sensation in a person’s head that mirrors falling or sinking, or thinking the room is spinning around, even when he / she is not moving.  Vertigo occurs when the central nervous system receives conflicting messages from the inner ear, eyes, muscles and skin pressure receptors. 

This can occur due to brain tumours, high / low blood pressure, allergies, diabetes, a head injury, inadequate / interrupted oxygen-supply to the brain, anaemia, viral infection, fever, using certain drugs, nutritional deficiencies, a neurological disease, psychological stress, changes in the atmospheric pressure, blockage of the ear canal / eustachian tube, middle ear infection, or even excess wax in the ear.  Other illnesses that can cause vertigo are arteriosclerosis, cervical osteoarthritis, or poor cerebral circulation.

Ménière’s disease is a broad term used to describe all the different inner ear disturbances, namely ringing in the ears, loss of hearing and balance, vertigo, tinnitus (buzzing or ringing in the ears), and a sensation of fullness / pressure (this can affect either one or both ears).  This is a rare disease and the causes are still unknown. 

Many experts believe that it is because of a condition called endolymphatic hydrops (the excessive swelling of the small, fluid-filled chambers of the inner ear that creates periods of vertigo due to the pressure and severe disruptions within the inner ear).  Symptoms can range from nausea, sweating, vomiting and a loss of balance.  It can be caused by impaired blood flow to the brain due to clogged arteries and poor circulation, allergies, consumption of excess alcohol or caffeine, stress, barometric changes, pregnancy, visual stimuli, experiencing orgasm, sugar, exposure to loud noises, air pressure changes and excessive salt intake.

Many of us has, at one stage or another, experienced dizziness from getting up too quickly.  This is normal, but when the symptoms don’t subside after a minute or two, there might be another reason why you are dizzy.  Therefore, it is always advisable to speak to your health practitioner about dizzy spells; especially if it occurs on a regular basis.  Ear pain should also not be ignored; especially if it doesn’t go away after a day.  When we swim (this affects children especially), water can get into the ear.  It should drain after about a day, but if not and the person / child develops pain and/or swelling, then it is best to have it looked at. 

Dizziness can also be linked to blood sugar levels.  When we eat too much sugar and sweet things, our blood sugar shoots up higher than normal and when it drops, it drops lower than normal.  The same can happen when we consume too much caffeine.  What to do when you suffer from one of the above-mentioned ear problems? 

First of all, look at your diet.  Make sure you take a good Vitamin C, vitamin B-complex with extra B6, vitamin E, Zinc, Calcium and Magnesium-formula (drink it at night and make sure to take it together for better absorption), and watch what you eat.  Ginger is a wonderful herb that will alleviate dizziness, as well as nausea. 

If you or your child has an ear infection, use something like Olive leaf extract to help the body fight off the infection.  Garlic is also good to use; either add it to your diet or make a poultice from the onion.  Garlic has natural anti-inflammatory properties in and is good for a strong immune system.  Hot and cold compresses can also alleviate pain, as well as making a poultice from onions.

Food allergies, especially in babies and young children, must always be looked at when they experience one of the above-mentioned illnesses; especially if it occurs more than once.  Look at your stress levels and make sure to not only reduce it, but also to handle it better.  Smoking and excess alcohol, together with a diet high in salt and processed foods and fats, can also play a role, as it depletes the body of the important vitamins and minerals.

If you suffer from low blood sugar levels, make sure to eat enough protein during the day, to steer off dips in the blood sugar levels.  Most people have a “slump” in the afternoon; so instead of snacking on biscuits, chips or chocolate, rather eat a piece of cheese, fruit or nuts. 

Regular exercise is not only good for the body, but also good for the mind and the soul.  Even if you don’t like going to the gym, put on your walking shoes and go for a walk or a run.  Our ears play an important role; not just when listening, but also to help us maintain our balance.  Take care of what you have!

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