Authored by Revere Health

Common Conditions of the Ears and Nose

February 21, 2017 | Ear, Nose, ThroatFamily Medicine

The ears and nose are important parts of the body. They assist us in everything from oxygen intake to balance. The ears and nose regulate several different functions in the body, so it’s important to keep them healthy.

A family medicine doctor can treat many conditions of the ears and nose in people of all ages. Here are some common conditions that can be treated by a family medicine doctor.


People of all ages can get nosebleeds, and there are two main types:

  1. 1. Anterior nosebleeds: These are nosebleeds that come from a blood vessel at the front of the nose, and they’re the most common type, making up over 90 percent of all nosebleeds.
  2. 2. Posterior nosebleeds: These are much less common than anterior nosebleeds, and occur more often in elderly people. These nosebleeds start from arteries in the back of the nose, and are often caused by high blood pressure. In almost all cases of posterior nosebleed, medical assistance will be needed.


Nosebleeds are more common during winter months and in dry or cold climates. They’re most frequently seen in children between ages 2 and 10, or in adults ages 50 to 80.

Some causes of nosebleeds include:


  1. Trauma: The most common cause of nosebleeds is trauma to the nose or face. These can include outside trauma, like being hit in the face or nose, or inside trauma, like from picking the nose too often or complications that develop during a cold or cough.
  2. Blood clots: In some rarer cases, people may have a separate condition that makes it difficult or impossible for blood to clot, which can lead to nosebleeds. This can also be caused by certain blood-thinning medications.
  3. Liver disease
  4. Abnormal blood vessels or cancers in the nose
  5. High blood pressure can contribute to nosebleeds, but usually isn’t the only cause.


Treatments for nosebleeds can vary depending on how severe they are and where they originate from. Many are home remedies you can do without a doctor’s help, and these can be effective at stopping bleeding.

People who are at higher risk for nosebleeds, or have them often, can take a few precautions:

  1. Combat dry air: Everything from a humidifier to a nasal lubricant can help with the irritation that dry air can cause in the nose. These are especially important during colder months.
  2. Stop smoking: Smoking can lead to nasal dryness and irritation, on top of other health issues.
  3. Nose care: Things like blowing your nose and picking it for tough items have to be done from time to time, but try to avoid doing them too intensely and triggering a nosebleed.

Ear Infection

Also known as acute otitis media, ear infections are more common in children than in adults. In most cases, they’re caused by an infection—either viral or bacterial—that affects the middle ear. The middle ear is the space behind the eardrum that holds the vibrating bones in the ear.

Symptoms of ear infections can include all of the following in children (the top three symptoms are also found in adult ear infections):

  1. Ear pain
  2. Fluid draining from the ear
  3. Hearing problems
  4. Constant tugging or pulling on the ear
  5. Trouble sleeping
  6. More crying or frustration than usual
  7. Loss of appetite
  8. High fever
  9. Balance loss
  10. Headache


If these symptoms last more than a day, or if they’re present in children under 6 months old, you should speak to your family medicine doctor. You should also do so if you see discharge coming from their ears, or if their pain and sleep issues become extremely severe, especially right after a cold or infection.

Ear infections can be caused by several different factors, and there are others that may increase your or your child’s risk of infection.

Most ear infections can be diagnosed simply by a doctor using an item called an otoscope to look at areas like the ears, throat and nasal passage. In some cases, there might be extra tests performed. In cases where an ear infection is diagnosed, there are three possible categories it might fall under:

  • Acute otitis media: This is the basic classification for an ear infection, diagnosed if your doctor sees signs of fluid or infection in the ear that came on suddenly.
  • Otitis media with effusion: This is when there’s evidence of fluid in the ear, but no symptoms of actual infection.
  • Chronic suppurative otitis media: This is a more serious case of where a doctor finds that a chronic ear infection has torn or perforated the eardrum.


Treatments for ear infections depend on how severe the infection is. In many cases, they’ll resolve themselves without needing any medication or treatment. Some of the approaches that are taken when treatment is needed can include:


  • Wait-and-see: This is allowing ear infections to pass on their own, which most do within a week or two. Wait-and-see is a particularly common approach for children between 6 and 23 months of age who have a mild fever and mild pain in one ear, or for children over 24 months of age who have this same fever and pain in both ears.
  • Pain management: Warm compression works for some people, and others are advised to use basic over-the-counter pain medications.
  • Antibiotics: Doctors will recommend these for various ear infection cases in children.
  • Ear tubes: For children or people who have chronic ear infections, this allows doctors to suck fluid out of the ears.


If you or your child have frequent ear infection symptoms or fluid in the ears, speak with your family medicine doctor about your potential solutions.


As a physician, I love helping people through stressful times when they may be sick or hurt. I want to be the kind of doctor that I would want for my own family. When a doctor takes the time to help their patients understand what is happening and what the plan is, a patient’s anxiety can be greatly reduced. The patient should receive all the information they need to be an equal partner in decision-making and feel empowered about caring for their body. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.



“Nosebleeds.” WebMD.

“Ear infection (middle ear).” The Mayo Clinic.


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.