A Few Words of Wisdom

Ear and Eye Problems

Ear Problems

Most ear problems are unlikely to cause permanent loss of hearing and can be dealt with at home. But remember that repeated exposure to very loud noise (e.g. from a personal stereo) can slowly cause a long-lasting loss of hearing.

Recognising common ear problems

  • •  Cold exposure may result in a mild earache.
  • •  An insect or foreign body causes buzzing or hissing in the ear, and a tickling sensation.
  • •  Ear infection can be caused by bacteria or viruses. A middle ear infection results in severe earache, poor hearing, fever, and sometimes a greenish-yellow discharge. It is very important to treat middle ear infection. if untreated, the infection can lead to hearing loss. An outer ear infection causes painful earache that worsens when you pull at the ear lobe, itchy cracks in the ear canal, and discharge.
  • •  Wax blockage can cause earache, a blocked feeling, and hearing loss.


Try to reduce your exposure to very loud noises. If there are loud noises in your work place, wear ear defenders (ask your employers to supply a pair, if relevant). Never poke any objects into the ear (e.g. cotton buds), thay can cause infection and your ear to produce excess earwax.

Eye Problems

Eye symptoms such as irritation and redness are common but they are rarely serious. It's important, however, to recognise the signs of potentially serious conditions that require immediate medical attention.

Recognising commom eye conditions

  • •  Conjunctivitis results in watering and bloodshot eyes with sticky discharge, gritty sensation and dislike of bright lights.
  • •  Dry eye is recognised by bloodshot eyes, with a gritty feeling. There is no watering, as too few tears are produced. Infection is more likely.
  • •  Eye irritation causes watering and bloodshot eyes as a result of external irritation; e.g. exposure to chemical fumes.
  • •  A foreign body (e.g. grit) in the eye or stuck under the eyelid gives a painful and uncomfortable sensation, causing red, watering eyes that may be difficult to open. If the particle is not removed, it can cause serious damage to the eye.
  • •  Stye is a red lump on the eyelid. It may itch or cause slight pain or discomfort on the eyelid where the lashes are. It's due to a boil at the base of an eyelash caused by bacterial infection.


You can reduce your risk of minor eye problems by avoiding exposure to irritants and wear protective goggles if you are doing tasks that may produce airborne particles or dust (e.g. DIY). If someone in the houshold has an eye infection, make sure everyone uses separate face flannels and towels to avoid spreading the infection. It is worthwhile having your sight tested every two years, or more frequently if your optometrist recommends it. And, if you wear contact lenses, follow the instructions for cleaning them carefully.