The human ear is an amazing organ. Responsible for one of our most important senses — hearing — it consists of not just what you see on the outside of your head, but also extends inward, connecting to your brain.
But like all parts of the human body, ears are susceptible to injury and disease. In this blog post, we’ll identify a few of the most common ones — so you can proactively stay on top of your hearing health and take steps to prevent hearing loss.
The outer ear
External Otitis (Swimmer’s Ear)
External otitis is an infection of the ear canal, typically by bacteria. Symptoms include itching, pain, and discharge. Diagnosis is based on inspection. Treatment is with topical drugs, including antibiotics, corticosteroids, and acetic acid or a combination.
Dermatitis of the ear canal involves itching and skin changes that are caused by exposure to allergens (like earrings or beauty products) or are spontaneous occurrences. Can lead to infections.
The middle ear
One of the most common reasons parents take their children to the doctor,Otitis media is a bacterial or viral infection of the middle ear, usually accompanying an upper respiratory infection. Symptoms include an earache, often with fever, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, especially in the very young. Diagnosis is based on otoscopy. Treatment is with analgesics and sometimes antibiotics.
Cholesteatoma is a type of skin cyst located in the middle ear. It can be a birth defect, but more commonly occurs as a complication of chronic ear infection. The cyst may get bigger and break down some of the middle ear bones or other structures of the ear, affecting hearing, balance, and possibly function of the facial muscles. Usually requires surgery to remove cyst.
Otosclerosis is an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear and is the most frequent cause of middle-ear hearing loss in young adults. Its cause is unknown, however, there is evidence that it may be passed down through families. Symptoms include hearing loss, dizziness and/or tinnitus. Treatment may require surgery.
The inner ear
Labyrinthitis is a bacterial infection known to cause deafness and loss of balance. It can occur after an ear infection (otitis media) or an upper respiratory infection, and may also occur after an allergy, cholesteatoma, or taking certain drugs that are dangerous to the inner ear. A complete physical and nervous system exam should be done, as an ear examination may not reveal any problems.
Proactively stay on top of your hearing health by visiting us for a free examination and consultation. Simply call us at 708-966-4724 or submit your information on our Contact Us page and we’ll get back to you.