The common ear ache is mostly caused by fluid in the ears. More specific fluid trapped in the middle ear region which lies behind the ear drum. The middle ear is a busy component of the adult auditory system. Not only does it turn sound into mechanical vibrations for the inner ear to interpret, but it is also important for equalizing the pressure in your head. For the most part the middle ear is filled with air, but sometimes fluid gets trapped.
It is the job of the Eustachian tube to help regulate air pressure in the middle ear. The tube runs from the middle ear down to the throat. Allergies, colds and respiratory infections can cause the Eustachian tube to swell or become clogged allowing fluid in the ears where it gets trapped. The infection that can result is called Otitis Media or middle ear infection. A few common symptoms are:
For the most part a middle ear infection caused by fluid in the ears can easily be treated in adults by seeking help from a medical professional. In some cases fluid in the ear can become a chronic condition which can affect your hearing. Your medical professional may refer you to an audiologist if your hearing health also declines.
An audiologist will perform a middle ear assessment to further examine your condition and why it is affecting your hearing. Typically this begins with tympanometry which measures the relationship between air pressure and the ear drum and looks specifically at what is happening in the middle ear including identifying fluid in the ear. The audiologist may also use acoustic reflex measures and static acoustic impedance to further isolate the hearing issue. Your audiologist may work closely with your medical doctor to determine the best course of action for treatment.