Otolaryngology Ear & Hearing Problems

Diseases and disorders of the ears, nose, throat, head, and neck negatively impact the lives of millions around the world. Our health information, created by our member physicians, provides a basic overview of diagnoses and treatment for many of these conditions.

Otolaryngology Ear & Hearing Problems

Conditions that impair ear function can be as minor as wax buildup or as serious as congenital deafness. This section contains valuable information about how to protect your hearing, how to recognize indications of hearing disorders, and what ENT-head and neck physicians can do to evaluate and treat these problems.

Not at all, Tinnitus is the name for these head noises, and they are very common. Nearly 36 million Americans suffer from this discomfort. Tinnitus may come and go, or you may be aware of a continuous sound. It can vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal or whine, and you may hear it in one or both ears. When the ringing is constant, it can be annoying and distracting. More than seven million people are afflicted so severely that they cannot lead normal lives.

In most cases, there is no specific treatment for ear and head noise. If your otolaryngologist finds a specific cause of your tinnitus, he/she may be able to eliminate the noise. But, this determination may require extensive testing including X-rays, balance tests, and laboratory work. However, most causes cannot be identified. Occasionally, medicine may help the noise. The medications used are varied, and several may be tried to see if they help.

Blockage of the Eustachian tube during a cold, allergy, or upper respiratory infection and the presence of bacteria or viruses lead to accumulation of fluid (a build-up of pus and mucus) behind the eardrum. This is the infection called acute otitis media. The build up of pressurized pus in the middle ear causes earache, swelling, and redness. Since the eardrum cannot vibrate properly, you or your child may have hearing problems.

Often after the acute infection has passed, the effusion remains and becomes chronic, lasting for weeks, months, or even years. This condition makes one subject to frequent recurrences of the acute infection and may cause difficulty in hearing.

In infants and toddlers look for:

Pulling or scratching at the ear (especially if accompanied by the following
Hearing problems
Crying, irritability
Ear drainage

In young children, adolescents, and adults look for:

Feeling of fullness or pressure
Hearing problems
Dizziness, loss of balance
Nausea, vomiting
Ear drainage

So, remember . . .
Otitis media is generally not serious if it is promptly and properly treated. With the help of your physician, you and/or your child can feel and hear better very soon. Be sure to follow the treatment plan, and see your physician until he/she tells you that the condition is fully cured.

Swimmers Ear Symptoms

The ear feels blocked and may itch
The ear canal becomes swollen, sometimes swelling shut
The ear starts draining and a runny milky liquid
The ear becomes very painful and very tender to touch, especially
on the cartilage in front of the ear canal.

If you experience these symptoms or if glands in the neck become swollen, see your doctor.

When water gets into the ear, it may bring in bacterial or fungal particles. Usually the water runs back out; the ear dries out; and the bacteria and fungi don’t cause any problems. But sometimes water remains trapped in the ear canal, and the skin gets soggy. Then bacteria and fungi grow, flourish, and can infect the outer ear.