A slight or moderate earache, which may, however, be very persistent, not sufficient to incapacitate the patient or prevent sleep, is often caused by some obstruction in the Eustachian tube, either by swelling or mucous discharge. This condition gives rise to the train of effects noted in the section on deafness. The air in the middle ear is absorbed to some extent, and therefore the pressure within the ear is less than that outside the drum, so that the latter is pressed inward with the result that pain, and perhaps noises and deafness ensue, and, if the condition is not relieved, inflammation of the middle ear as described above.

Treatment. Treatment is directed toward cleaning the back of the nose and reducing swelling at the openings of the Eustachian tubes in this locality, and inflating the tubes with air. A spray of Seiler’s solution[3] is thrown from an atomizer through the nostrils, with the head tipped backward, until it is felt in the back of the throat, and after the water has drained away the process is repeated a number of times. This treatment is pursued twice daily, and one hour after the fluid in the nose is well cleared away the Eustachian tubes may be inflated by the patient. To accomplish this the lips are closed tightly, and the nostrils also, by holding the nose; then an effort is made to blow the cheeks out till air is forced into the tubes and is felt entering both ears. This act is attended with danger of carrying up fluid into the tubes and greatly aggravating the condition, unless the water from the spray has had time to drain away.

Blowing the nose, as has been pointed out, is unwise, but the water may be removed to some extent by “clearing the throat.” The reduction of swelling at the entrance of the Eustachian tube in the back of the nose can be properly treated only by an expert, as some astringent (glycerite of tannin) must be applied on cotton wound on a curved applicator, and the instrument passed above and behind the roof of the mouth into the region back of the nose.

Rubbing the parts just in front of the external opening into the ear with the tip of one finger for a period of a few minutes several times a day will also favor recovery in this trouble.