Hearing Problems Often Encountered

Infection in the middle ear (otitis media)

Otitis media is a bacterial infection in the middle ear. Otitis media can affect anyone. However, it is more common in young children.

Symptoms

Fluid may accumulate in the middle ear as a result of the infection, causing the eardrum to protrude outward and causing ear pain.

The fluid can also cause slight hearing loss because the ossicles (the small bones in the ear) can no longer move freely and transmit sound waves to the inner ear.

In extreme cases, the eardrum may rupture, enabling pus and blood to enter the external ear canal.

Causes

When a bacterial or viral infection spreads to the ear, it is called otitis media. When something gets into the ear from the nose or throat, it causes a middle ear infection.

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Treatment

The majority of middle ear infections clear up within a few days to a week. Consult your primary care physician anyway because, while uncommon, otitis media consequences can be fatal.

Consult a doctor if there is no alleviation after several days or if you are in extreme pain. An antibiotic may be prescribed. In this case, you must finish the entire course of treatment.

clinging ear

Sticky ears, commonly known as otitis media with effusion (OME), are more common in youngsters but can occur in adults as well. A middle ear infection is typically to blame (otitis media).

Symptoms of glue ear

The most common symptom is temporary hearing loss. It may cause hearing loss in one or both ears.

Other signs and symptoms are as follows:

Pain in the ear or earache

Tinnitus (hearing sounds like ringing or buzzing).

If your child suffers from hearing loss, they may:

speak louder or quieter than usual

Solicit that others repeat what they have said.

Request that the volume of the TV or music is increased.

Because listening is more difficult, appear fatigued and annoyed.

Causes

Sticky ears arise when fluid accumulates in the middle ear and does not drain normally through the Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube is a narrow tube that links the middle ear to the back of the throat.

Treatment

After three months, the glue ear normally goes away on its own. If the problem does not improve, an otolaryngologist may recommend surgery to insert a tiny ventilation tube known as a grommet into the eardrum temporarily.

This allows fluid and air to enter the middle ear via the Eustachian tube.

If surgery is not a possibility owing to other health difficulties or another reason not to implant grommets, such as if grommets have not worked in the past and a sticky ear continues, hearing aids may be considered.

Ossicles that have been damaged

Severe infections and head injuries can cause hearing loss by damaging the ossicles (tiny bones) in the inner ear. Sometimes neonates have malformed ossicles.

Treatment

Damaged ossicles can be repaired or replaced using artificial bone. The severity of the ossicles and middle ear damage, as well as the type of artificial bone necessary to cure the damage, determine the extent to which your hearing improves after surgery.

Otosclerosis

You may have otosclerosis if you suffer hearing loss in one or both ears. Adults in their late twenties or early thirties are most commonly afflicted.

Causes

Abnormal bone gradually grows around and on the stapes, one of the small bones in the middle ear (ossicles). This limits the movement of the stapes.

As a result, the ossicles can no longer move as freely, and hearing loss develops when sound waves are not transmitted efficiently to the inner ear. The stapes gradually become cemented and unable to move, leading to significant hearing loss.

Otosclerosis normally mainly affects the stapes. In rare cases, the concha of the cochlea and the hair cells within it are also affected.

Treatment

Hearing aids can help with otosclerosis, but they cannot prevent hearing loss from worsening. The doctor may discuss the possibility of a stapedectomy, in which a surgeon replaces the stapes with a metal or plastic artificial bone, allowing sound to reach the inner ear once more. This procedure was a huge success.

Perforation of the eardrum

An eardrum that has been punctured is one that has been perforated or ruptured. It normally clears itself in a few weeks and requires no treatment.

If you feel your eardrum has ruptured, visit your primary care physician straight away because this can result in ear infections and other problems.

Signs

An eardrum rupture causes the following symptoms:

unexpected hearing loss

A painful earache

A scratch in the ear

Tinnitus is characterized by ringing or buzzing sounds in the ears.

Fluid oozing from the ear

A warm temperature

It is vital not to get water or other fluids in your ear if your eardrum has burst, as this could lead to a middle ear infection.

Causes

A perforated eardrum can be caused by:

An untreated middle ear infection, for example, can be fatal.

Eardrum damage can occur as a result of a direct impact to the ear or objects being pushed into the ear.

Sudden loud noises, such as an explosion, combined with a change in pressure

Air pressure changes occur quickly, for as when changing altitude in a flight or diving.

Treatment

A perforated eardrum will usually heal on its own within two months.

More severe damage, commonly caused by repeated bouts of middle ear infection, may demand surgery, known as a myringoplasty, to close the hole using a tissue transplant.

Visit the NHS website to find out when you should see a doctor and how you may reduce your risk of infection while your eardrum heals.

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Cholesteatoma

A cholesteatoma is a noncancerous abnormal growth that can form behind the eardrum in the middle of the ear. When a piece of the eardrum collapses, this can occur.

Dead skin cells that would otherwise be ejected from the ear are secreted by the eardrum. When the eardrum collapses, a pocket emerges in which dead skin cells clump together with earwax and other debris to form a cyst-like growth.

A cholesteatoma can spread and destroy adjacent ear structures such as the eardrum and the tiny bones known as ossicles if left untreated.

When the eardrum is injured or infected, especially after ear surgery, a cholesteatoma can occur.

Signs

A cholesteatoma usually affects only one ear. The most common symptoms are as follows:

a foul-smelling and watery discharge from the ear

Hearing loss develops progressively in the affected ear.

Some individuals may report minor earache.

It may also result in the following side effects:

Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing noises like buzzing or humming.

Dizziness (vertigo) occurs when the balance mechanism in the inner ear is disrupted.

Cholesteatoma can occasionally harm the facial nerve bone, weakening the face muscles.

In severe cases, the cholesteatoma may puncture the skull, causing meningitis or brain infection. Dizziness, facial muscle weakness, and severe headaches are all indicators of damage.

Treatment

Cholesteatoma requires surgery to remove the abnormal skin growth and any signs of infection in order to protect the middle and inner ear. The surgeon will then attempt to repair the damaged middle ear, transplant the eardrum, and, if possible, restore your hearing.

Ear of a surfer (exostosis)

Exostosis is a disorder in which the bone in the ear grows abnormally when exposed to cold water on a regular basis. It is most common in those who swim or surf in cold water, and is also known as a surfer’s ear.

Symptoms

Two bony swellings (exostoses) often grow gradually on the lower wall of the deep ear canal, with a third, smaller hump in the top part.

Exostosis intensifies when exposed to cold wind and water for a lengthy period of time. Earwax and water can become trapped in the ear if the swellings are too large, causing infection and hearing loss.

Avoiding contact with cold water by not swimming or swimming with earplugs will help keep swelling at bay.

Treatment

The odd bone growth can be surgically removed. Depending on the quality of your ear canal and the type of operation, healing could take several weeks.

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