Ear Trauma Discussion

The ear can be injured (traumatized) in a number of different ways.  The more common types of injuries are a slap to the ear, a cotton swab injury, a severe blow to the head from falling off a bicycle or having a motor vehicle accident. These types of injuries can range from minor to severe, needing emergency surgery.  Some of the complaints that people have after a blow to the ear include hearing loss, blocked ear, dizziness and pain.

On examination of the ear one needs to check to see if there is any blood in the canal and if the drum is intact. If there is blood in the ear canal then the patient needs to be evaluated by a doctor. The more common types of injuries that cause this type of problem will be a perforation of the drum or a basilar skull fracture, which is a fracture of the base of skull. Along with the bleeding there may also be leakage of spinal fluid. This is a severe condition and needs emergency medical attention. Also one needs to check if the muscles of the face are moving with smiling and closing the eyes. If one side is not working this may need emergency surgery. If the patient is dizzy, look at the eyes, and if the eyes are moving very rapidly to the left or right (nystagmus), this also indicates severe injury.

Treatment depends on the extent of injury. Simple perforation of the ear drum may not require any treatment at all. A basilar skull fracture will usually require several weeks of bed rest. If there are injuries to the nerves of the face or the hearing and balance center (inner ear), then emergency surgery may be needed. All trauma patients should be evaluated by a doctor.