When there’s a hole or tear present in the eardrums, it’s called a perforated eardrum. This condition interferes with your hearing ability, and how long it’ll last depends on every person.
The reasons you might get eardrum perforation are:
- Middle ear infection
- An injury straight to the ear
- A small hole made due to grommets
- An unexpected loud noise
- Inserting objects into the ear can cause eardrum damage
If you notice anything wrong with your hearing, there might be a chance you have perforated eardrums. The symptoms of the perforated eardrums are:
- Hearing loss
- Otitis media
- Positional vertigo ( spinning sensation )
Your doctor or ENT specialist will examine your eardrums with a microscope or an otoscope to determine if you have perforated eardrums.
To determine the condition more precisely, your doctor will also run the following tests:
- Laboratory tests on your middle ear to see whether you have any discharge coming out of your ears
- They’ll use tuning forks to check if you’re experiencing hearing loss
- Tympanometry is also used to detect perforation in your eardrums
- An audiology exam is done to check your ability to hear things at different pitches and volumes
While many of the perforated eardrums heal on their own without any specific treatment, you might be prescribed to get antibiotic drops if you have any infection.
However, for some reason, if the perforation in your ears doesn’t heal in a few weeks, your doctor will go with a different approach. They are:
- Eardrum patch. The doctor will use chemicals around the hole or tear and then put a patch on top of the hole. The doctor might repeat this process a few times as long as the hole doesn’t close completely
- Surgery. If the eardrum patch fails to treat the perforation, your doctor might decide to go for a tympanoplasty. The surgeon will transplant your own tissue patches to seal the hole in your eardrum
When a bone grows on top of another, it’s called osteoma or exostoses. It’s not malignant and can appear on different body parts.
Exostoses can either cause pain or not. Sometimes the pain can even require surgical attention. This condition regularly shows up when people are younger.
Exostoses can appear in your ear canal, ankle, sinuses, jaw, and leg’s long bones.
Why exostoses occur is not fully understood, but it depends on the location and type of bone’s excessive growth. However, the common causes are family history, injuries, or chronic irritation.
Sometimes people suffering from exostoses might not show any symptoms, and they might not even know about it. They find out after getting an x-ray done for any other health issue.
Some people figure out their exostoses as they experience ear canal or sinus cavity blockage.
People who have hereditary multiple exostoses will find the following symptoms:
- Short height
- Body parts of different lengths
- Painful movement
- Bowed legs or arms
You might start seeing the symptoms when the overgrown bony part creates problems like putting pressure on the nerves or blood vessels. This can even cause localized pain.
There are two types of exostoses:
- sessile, which is the board one, and it’s attached to the bone
- Pedunculated; there is a slim stem that connects these exostoses to the bones
When your doctor needs to be sure that your condition is exostoses, they’ll ask you to get some tests done like scans or x-rays, and it’s the same for buccal exostoses.
Once your doctor diagnoses you, it’s time for the treatments. While most of the exostoses don’t need any specific treatment, there are some cases that’d require effective treatment.
For example, canaloplasty is needed to treat a surfer’s ear. Also, to treat Haglund’s deformity, sometimes the doctors prefer to use surgical methods to eliminate the bony part.
If other approaches fail to treat the paranasal sinus osteoma, the last resort would be surgery.
When your middle ear gets filled with glue-like thick and sticky fluids, it’s called glue ear. This condition causes poor hearing.
As time passes, the glued ear condition can become more prominent and cause an infection in your middle ear. This can become serious if left untreated.
A glue ear occurs if the Eustachian tube doesn’t work accurately. If the Eustachian tube doesn’t open fully, gets narrowed, or is blocked, your middle ear will lose the balance of air and fluid.
If the air inside the middle ear isn’t replaced by air coming through the Eustachian tube, the air present in the middle ear will flow into the surrounding cells. And then there’ll be a vacuum developing in the middle ear. The vacuum will cause the glue-like fluids to seep into the surrounding cells.
Children are most likely to get a glue ear after a cold, ear infection, or cough. The extra mucus produced during this time will build up in your middle ear and won’t drain properly through the Eustachian tube.
If your children have glue ears, they might not complain, but you’ll notice some common symptoms in them like:
- Hearing problems
- Not being able to hear from far
- Talking loudly
- Asking everyone to repeat what they said
- Trouble to listen to people talking at average volume
- Feeling a buzzing or ringing sound in their ears
The adults, however, might experience the following symptoms:
- Weak hearing
- Loud volumes in TV and radio
- Balance problems
- Communication problems
- Selective hearing
If any of the symptoms are visible, get yourself diagnosed and treated.
Your doctor will get your medical history and examine the ears with an instrument that helps the doctor get a closer view of the eardrum and canal. You might also get asked to do a hearing test.
While glue ear usually goes back with time, there are cases where the condition needs more effective treatment.
Your doctor might not want to do anything to the glue ear initially and observe the condition for the first two to three months. If it stays longer than three months, the doctor will proceed with other treatments.
The treatments are primarily regular checkups and grommets.
The checkups help your doctor track the improvements of the glue ear, and the grommets are used to help the air get access to your middle ear.
Some cases can call for a tonsillectomy, too, if the eustachian tubes aren’t working correctly.
Losing hearing abilities in one or both ears cause hearing loss. This condition can range from moderate to severe. Several factors cause hearing loss, and there’s no age requirement for this condition to develop. However, hearing loss is more prevalent in people over 60 years old.
There are three kinds of hearing loss.
- Conductive which is the outer or middle ear’s hearing loss
- Sensorineural; hearing loss of the inner ear
- Mixed; combined hearing loss
There are several symptoms of hearing loss, but it varies depending on the cause, type, and degree of the hearing loss.
Like people with age-related hearing loss, they’ll experience high-frequency hearing loss more.
But some common symptoms include:
- Trouble to understand a regular conversation
- Asking people to repeat their words
- Trouble to communicate in noisy places like markets or restaurants
- Feel like they can hear everything but don’t understand
- Avoiding social gatherings
- Tinnitus; hearing a buzzing or ringing sound
- Turning the TV or radio volume up
Many facts cause hearing loss, and to get the condition treated accurately, it’s essential to know the underlying cause.
Here are the following facts that can cause / increase the risks of you getting hearing loss:
- If you’re over 60, there’s a chance you’ll end up with the age-related hearing loss
- Genetic disorders; if your family has a history of hearing loss, you’re most likely to adopt it
- Getting frequently exposed to loud noises like gunfires or machinery
- If you have diabetes or have heart diseases
You should consult a doctor quickly if you’re facing issues with your hearing. You’ll be asked to get some tests done to diagnose the cause and decide on proper treatment.
The tests can include:
- Physical exam
- General screening tests
- Using apps to test the hearing
- Tuning fork tests
- Audiometer tests
With the help of these tests, your doctor will approach your condition with a suitable treatment depending on how severe or moderate your hearing loss is.
There are several treatment options available. The doctor might begin with removing the wax blockage as a primary treatment and approach surgically to improve your condition.
The doctor’s preferred options are:
- Eliminating ear wax blockage
- Hearing aids
- Cochlear implants
- Surgical procedures
Discuss the before and after cautions with your doctor to recover from the treatment without complications.
A condition that affects your inner ear and causes vertigo is medically known as Meniere’s disease. It’ll mostly affect only one of your ears. This condition also causes hearing issues and tinnitus.
While Meniere’s disease is chronic, you can reduce the symptoms with the right treatments and lifestyle moderation.
Menieres diseases’ symptoms will come as attacks or episodes, and they can include:
- Losing balance
- Hearing loss
- Feeling like the ears are plugged / aural fullness
People suffering from this condition will experience multiple symptoms from the following:
- Aural fullness
- Hearing loss
Unfortunately, there are no cures available for Meniere’s disease. But the best shot is to treat the condition to mitigate the frequency and intensity of the disease.
Get yourself an appointment with a doctor and start the treatment as soon as possible. Your doctor will ask you to get some tests done. The tests include:
- Balance test
- Cranial CT scan
- Hearing test
After evaluating the results, your doctor will proceed with the treatment. Here are some of the medications your doctors might prescribe to reduce the vertigo attack’s intensity:
- Diazepam or meclizine to help you deal with motion sickness, control nausea. and spinning sensation
- Diuretics combined with lesser salt intake to reduce the episode’s frequency
- Medications like promethazine (anti-nausea) to help you control vomiting when you have a vertigo episode
Besides the medications, there are some noninvasive approaches that your doctor might discuss with you. You might get benefits from the noninvasive procedures and therapies. These methods are:
- Positive pressure therapy is the best option for people suffering from menieres disease as it’s a condition that’s challenging to treat. In this therapy, you’ll be required to put pressure in your middle ear to reduce fluid buildup
- Rehabilitation. You might find this helpful if you have problems maintaining balance when having vertigo episodes. Try out vestibular rehabilitation therapy to improve your balance
- If you’re having hearing issues due to menieres disease, getting a hearing aid seems like the right fit for you. You might also be referred to an audiologist to ensure that you receive the perfect hearing aid
The inflammation of the external ear canal ( a passage between the eardrum and outer ear ) is called Otitis Externa. Since constant water exposure makes the ear canal prone to inflammation, this condition is also known as the swimmer’s ear.
Facts that can cause swimmer’s ear are:
- Losing ear wax which is a natural protectant in our ears
- Swimming in the dirty / polluted water
- Water getting caught in the ear canal due to frequent showering or swimming
- Ear injuries due to inserting objects like clips, pens, fingers
- Skin problems like psoriasis or eczema affect the ear canal
If you’re in a condition to get otitis externa, look for the following symptoms:
- Blocked ear
- Painful ears. The pain increases when there’s pressure applied to the outer ear
- Pain spreading from ears to the side of your face
- Feeling itchy inside your ear canals
- Poor hearing or losing hearing momentarily
- Mild fever
- The swollen or red outer ear
The presence of these symptoms calls for a visit to the hospital.
Your doctor will diagnose the condition using your history and examinations. The diagnosing tests can include otomicroscopic or otoscopic examination of your tympanic membrane and ear canals. Also, the doctor will examine your pinna.
The doctor will check what works the best for your condition to treat your issues. The treatment ranges from antibiotics / steroids to incision and drainage.
Doctors prefer to use these four ear drops to cure Swimmer’s ear:
- Acidic ear drops will help eliminate bacteria
- Corticosteroid ear drops are used to decrease the swelling around the ears
- Antibiotic ear drops to get rid of a bacterial infection
- Antifungal ear drops; used to treat fungal infections
If the condition requires more effective treatment, the doctor will go for a stronger prescription:
- Painkillers to treat a severe condition
- Antibiotic capsules or tablets to address a severe infection
- If you have a boil developing inside your ears, the doctor will use a sterilized needle, pierce it, and drain the pus
When your treatment is done, and there’s nothing to worry about, the doctor might re-examine your ears to determine if you have any abnormalities like perforated eardrums.
The middle ear’s infection is called otitis media. It happens due to sore throat, respiratory problems, or cold. This condition is mainly seen in children aged three months and three years.
Adults don’t tend to get otitis media as much as children do.
The risk factors that cause ear infections are:
- Age. younger people will be more prone to otitis media
- Cold. if you have a cold too often, you might end up with an ear infection
- Chronic diseases. People suffering from long-term illness can develop ear infections
- If the condition runs in the family, you’ll develop it too
- Ethnicity. The Hispanic and Native American kids are more likely to get otitis media than any other group
- Allergies can lead to fluid building up in your middle ear and cause otitis media
There are some common symptoms people with otitis media show. But the symptoms can vary from person to person.
- Losing balance
- Tugging at either one or both ears
- Abnormal irritability
- Trouble to fall asleep
- Feeling pain in the ears
- Trouble to hear things
If these symptoms are visible, you might want to get an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can.
Your doctor will recommend some tests to get a proper diagnosis. They’ll examine your ear with an otoscope to determine if there’s an infection present, the eardrums are affected, or any other abnormalities.
Your ears will be examined with another instrument called a pneumatic otoscope to check if the eardrums have any significant movement.
The doctor will also perform tympanometry to detect the presence of fluid in your ears.
The treatment depends on the individual condition like the patient’s age, infection’s severity, type of infection, etc.
There are multiple approaches to treating otitis media like medication for fever / pain, oral antibiotics, or ear drops and observing. The treatment can also be a combination of all these.
However, if the fluid stays in the ear for more than three months, and the infection keeps recurring despite antibiotics, the doctor will go for a surgical approach named myringotomy. This procedure is done to get rid of the fluid in your middle ear.
It’s medically known as tinnitus when you get the sensation of hearing different kinds of sounds ringing in your ears. People usually describe this condition as “ringing in the ears.”
The sounds can be any of the following:
Different people have different experiences with this condition. For some people, the noises can ring continuously or randomly; the volume can also vary. The sounds get worse at night or when the surrounding sounds are low.
Underlying health issues like an injury to the ears, hearing loss due to age, or circulatory system problems are often the reason tinnitus occurs. Several more conditions or sicknesses can cause tinnitus like:
- Ear blockages because of ear infection, wax buildup, or even a tumor
- A side effect of some medications like aspirin, anti-inflammatories, quinine medicines, etc
- Neck and head injuries
- Health issues with jaw and neck
- Age-related hearing problem
Certain lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, or consuming different food can worsen the condition. Also, fatigue and stress tend to worsen tinnitus big time.
Your symptoms are self-evident for the doctor to diagnose you with tinnitus. However, to ensure that you receive proper treatments, the doctor will get your history and examine your neck, head, and ears. This is to ensure that there are no other underlying problems left.
The tests might include:
- Hearing exam where you’ll be taken to a soundproof room with an earphone in your ears, and the earphone will transmit some sounds. You need to tell when you hear them
- MRI scans
- CT scans
- Movement test where you move your neck, eyes, arms, or clench your jaws to see if there are any changes with your tinnitus
- Regular lab tests to check for abnormalities in your thyroid, heart, or blood
The results from these tests will help the doctor decide which condition you’re in and if there’s an underlying issue to be treated.
After diagnosis, the doctor will get started with treatments.
The approaches that feel safest to the doctor will get priority. So, your doctor will check if any underlying problems cause your condition, and they need to deal with it first.
In that case, the doctor will begin with addressing the underlying conditions to decrease tinnitus symptoms. Some steps include taking care of a blood vessel, using hearing aids, or even removing the earwax block.