Ear & Hearing/Balance

About

EAR:

A middle ear infection, also called otitis media, occurs when a virus or bacteria cause the area behind the eardrum to become inflamed. Most middle ear infections occur during the winter and early spring. Often, middle ear infections go away without any medication. However, you should seek medical treatment if pain persists or you have a fever.

HEARING:

Hearing loss is when you’re unable to partially or completely hear sound in one or both of your ears. Hearing loss typically occurs gradually over time. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that about 25 percent of those between the ages of 65 and 74 experience hearing loss.

BALANCE:

Labyrinthitis is an inner ear disorder. The two vestibular nerves in your inner ear send your brain information about your spatial navigation and balance control. When one of these nerves becomes inflamed, it creates a condition known as labyrinthitis.

Click on Vertigo, Inflammation of the middle Ear (Otitis Media), or Perforation (or rupture) of the Eardrum on the menu below to start the video.


Causes

EAR:

There are a number of reasons why children get middle ear infections. They often stem from a prior infection of the respiratory tract that spreads to the ears. When the tube that connects the middle ear to the pharynx (eustachian tube) is blocked, fluid will collect behind the eardrum. Bacteria will often grow in the fluid, causing pain and infection.

HEARING:

There are three basic types of hearing loss, each caused by different underlying factors. The three most common causes of decreased hearing are conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), and mixed hearing loss.

BALANCE:

Several factors can cause this condition, including infections and viruses. You should receive prompt treatment for any ear infections, but there’s no known way to prevent labyrinthitis.

Symptoms

EAR:

There are a variety of symptoms associated with middle ear infections. Some of the most common are:

  • Ear pain
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Tugging or pulling at the ears
  • Fever
  • Yellow, clear, or bloody discharge from the ears
  • Loss of balance
  • Problems hearing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Congestion

HEARING:

Hearing loss typically occurs over time. At first, you may not notice any changes in your hearing. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you should contact your doctor:

  • Hearing loss that interferes with your daily activities
  • Hearing loss that becomes worse or doesn’t go away
  • Hearing loss that’s worse in one ear
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Severe hearing loss
  • Having ear pain along with hearing problems
  • Headaches
  • Numbness
  • Weakness

BALANCE:

Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, and loss of hearing. Vertigo, another symptom, is a type of dizziness marked by the sensation that you’re moving, even though you aren’t. It can interfere with driving, working, and other activities. Medications and self-help techniques can lessen the severity of your vertigo.

Treatment

EAR:

There are a number of ways to treat middle ear infections. Your doctor will base treatment on your child’s age, health, and medical history. Depending on the severity of the infection, your doctor may tell you that the best option is to treat the pain and wait to see if symptoms go away. Ibuprofen or another fever and pain reducer is a common treatment. Symptoms lasting more than three days usually mean your doctor will recommend antibiotics. However, antibiotics won’t cure an infection if it’s caused by a virus.

HEARING:

If you develop hearing loss due to a buildup of wax in the ear canal, you can remove the wax at home. Over-the-counter solutions, including wax softeners, can remove wax from the ear. Syringes can also push warm water through the ear canal to remove the wax. Consult your doctor before attempting to remove any object stuck in your ear to avoid unintentionally damaging your ear.

For other causes of hearing loss, you’ll need to see your doctor. If your hearing loss is the result of an infection, your doctor may need to prescribe antibiotics. If your hearing loss is due to other conductive hearing problems, your doctor may refer you to a specialist to receive a hearing aid or a cochlear implant.

BALANCE:

The treatment for labyrinthitis usually involves using medications to control your symptoms. Most people find relief from symptoms within one to three weeks and achieve full recovery in a month or two.