This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
This is an inflammation of the middle ear. It is the principal cause of earache. It occurs at all periods of life, but is especially common in young persons. The most frequent cause is taking cold in the head, or in the ears. When frequently repeated, it may lead to chronic catarrh and permanent impairment of hearing. Prolonged bathing, especially in cool weather, or ducking the head under water, is a frequent cause of catarrh of the ear. Prof. Roosa, an eminent aurist, also asserts that the use of tea and coffee, pastry, and other improper articles of diet, is a frequent cause of this disease.
The treatment of acute catarrh of the middle ear is a matter of great importance for the reason just given. If prompt, energetic measures are not employed, the drum membrane is not infrequently perforated by ulceration. This is not an accident fatal to hearing, however, as openings of this kind generally heal quite readily with proper treatment. Essentially the same treatment should be employed as has been recommended for earache, the most useful being fomentations and the hot ear douche. Simply breathing into the ear for a few minutes will sometimes check the disease in children. Pouring into the ear sweet oil, glycerine, molasses, laudanum, cologne water, etc., is not only useless, but in many cases harmful. There is also danger from the use of poultices if too long employed. Fomentations should be applied to the throat as well as to the ear. In severe cases, when a considerable amount of suppuration occurs, it is sometimes necessary to employ a competent surgeon to lance the drum membrane so as to allow the accumulated fluid to escape. As soon as the symp toms have disappeared, the ear should be inflated by grasping the nose so as to close the nostrils tightly, closing the mouth and then attempting to blow through the nostrils. By this maneuver, air will be forced up into the ears, and in many cases, the impairment of hearing will be at once relieved to a considerable degree, if not altogether. In cases of children who are unable to perform the experiment, the ears may be inflated by putting into the nostril one end of a piece of rubber tubing through which the mother or nurse should blow, while the mouth and other nostril of the infant are tightly closed. When the soreness and swelling have passed away, the ear should be carefully tested to determine whether or not the hearing is seriously impaired. Persons subject to inflammation of the middle ear should be very careful not to expose themselves to taking cold in any way. Special pains should be taken to protect the ears from exposure to drafts of cold air. In the majority of cases, complete recovery takes place.