RINGING IN THE EARS
Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) is a symptom that is usually related to hearing loss. A patient may not be aware that he/she has the hearing loss. The hearing loss may be a result of aging, noise damage, earwax impaction, or ear fluid. Treating the causative condition usually alleviates the ringing. Hearing aids are often helpful as well.
Earache can be caused by a variety of conditions. Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections of the ear canal, eardrum, and middle ear all cause ear pain. Antibiotics, ear drops or even ear tubes (myringotomy with PE tubes) may be needed to treat these infections. Earache can also be caused by pain referred from another part of the head and neck. For example, tonsil infections, jaw joint arthritis, even throat cancer can all cause earache.
Hearing loss is classified as conductive (blockage of sound into the ear) or sensorineural (loss of nerve cells in the ear). Some patients have both. A specialized hearing test performed by our audiology department can determine which is present. Conductive hearing loss can be caused by earwax in the ear canal, hole in the eardrum, fixation of the hearing bones, or ear fluid. Our surgeons can perform repair of the eardrum (tympanoplasty) or mobilization of the hearing bones (stapedectomy) when indicated. Sensorineural hearing loss can be associated with aging. However, excessive noise exposure, viruses, and, very rarely, benign tumors of the hearing nerve can all cause sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is usually not correctable with surgery; Hearing aids are helpful when indicated.
Fluid draining from the ear should always prompt a visit to an ear specialist. Common ear infections can cause drainage. But, a serious condition called cholesteatoma can also present this way. A cholesteatoma is a cyst of trapped skin behind the eardrum that can erode the tiny hearing bones of the ear. It usually forms after prolonged ear problems and causes ear drainage and hearing loss. A surgery to remove the air sinuses behind the ear (mastoidectomy) is sometimes necessary to remove the cyst.
Balance is achieved through the interaction of three body systems, the eyes, the muscles of the body, and the inner ear balance organ. A proper functioning brain is also needed to coordinate these three inputs. Dizziness can be caused by a multitude of conditions, only one of which is inner ear disturbance. Our specialists can determine the nature of balance disorders and recommend proper therapy