Ear Pain Can be Life Threatening
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05 January 2011
By Soumita Majumdar
It all started with a mild pain on the left ear. Lissy John, a 55–year old, went from one ENT specialist to another seeking a remedy.
After four months of shuttling between doctors, she was finally diagnosed with osteomyelitis, a rare and extreme condition, with an incidence rate of less than 0.5%.
"Initially, I was having pain on my left ear and went to a clinic in Kerala. After a couple of days of treatment, since my condition did not improve, I consulted an ENT surgeon in Trivandrum," said Lissy. There she was treated for about two weeks. However, her condition only went from bad to worse. Now, she was even unable to turn her head. Even a head bath proved to be a Herculean task as she had to keep her ears covered all the time.
Next, she was referred to another ENT surgeon, who diagnosed Lissy with osteomyelitis. Despite being treated for three months, she did not get cured.
Finally her son Jiggu John working in Bangalore put her in touch with Dr Kumaresh Krishnamoorthy, consultant & ENT specialist at Apollo Hospital. In the meantime, Lissy had already lost her sense of hearing in the left ear.
"An MRI scan was conducted to find out the severity of the infection, followed by a swab test and intensive treatment. A surgery could have spread the infection. In such cases, patients need to be medically monitored. Also, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) needs to be monitored," said Dr Krishnamoorthy.
"Had my mother’s treatment got delayed by a month or so, the infection would have spread to the skull bone and cranial nerves. However, within a month of treatment here, her pain reduced," said Jiggu.
The infection can affect the bone that separates the ear from the brain. If not diagnosed at the right time, this disease can lead to several complications, said Dr Krishnamoorthy.