What causes an ear infection (otitis media)?
An ear infection is caused by improper drainage of fluid that collects behind the eardrum during a cold, allergy, or upper respiratory infection and the presence of bacteria or viruses. The build up of pressurized pus in the middle ear causes an earache, swelling, and redness. Since the eardrum cannot vibrate properly, the individual may experience hearing problems.
What causes swimmer’s ear?
Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is typically a bacterial infection of the ear canal; this differs from otitis media which involves fluid behind the eardrum. It often follows injury to the skin of the ear canal caused by aggressive “cleaning” with Q-tips, bobby pins, matchsticks and other devices.
What does the doctor mean when he/she says my child would benefit from “tubes?”
Most of the time, otitis media clears up with proper medication. When it doesn’t, further treatment may be recommended. This treatment may be the surgical placement of a ventilation tube (Pressure equalization tube, PE Tube) in the eardrum. This “tube” allows fluid to drain from behind the eardrum preventing fluid accumulation. The tube prevents the negative pressure that leads to the fluid behind the ear in the first place. The individual will probably notice a remarkable improvement in hearing and a decrease in the frequency of ear infections.
Why do I have ear wax?
Ear wax (cerumen) is normal in healthy ears. The purpose of cerumen is to moisturize and protect the skin of the ear canal and to trap dust and particles before they reach the eardrum. Cerumen is formed in the outer part of the ear canal. Normally, wax makes its way to the outer opening of the ear canal, flakes up, and falls out.
How do I remove ear wax?
In most cases, swabbing the opening of the ear canal with a damp washcloth with your finger will remove excessive ear wax. Avoid too much moister or going too deep since prolonged moisture in the ear canal can lead to an infection. Probing with bobby pins, matchsticks, Q-tips, etc. is strongly discouraged.
What’s wrong with Q-tips?
The problem with Q-tips is that they pack the ear wax from the outer ear canal deep into the ear canal until it jams against the ear drum, much like a cannon being packed with black powder and a tamping rod. Cerumen lodged against the eardrum is much more difficult and painful to get out and can cause a temporary hearing loss.
What is tinnitus (ringing or roaring in the ears)?
Any noise of the ear, as long as it is not someone talking to you, is called tinnitus. Tinnitus is very common and can be annoying and distracting. Almost 37 million Americans have tinnitus. It may come and go or may be a constant bother. It might be soft or loud, low pitched (roaring), or high-pitched (ringing) kind of sound. More than 7 million people are so badly afflicted that they can’t lead normal lives.
What might cause tinnitus?
There are various causes including a plug of wax, allergy, ear infections, circulatory problems, certain medications, and prolonged exposure to loud noise.
What are some treatments for tinnitus?
There are multiple treatments for tinnitus because most treatments don’t completely eradicate the noise for most people. It is very important that you obtain a formal hearing test in a sound both.
What if the tinnitus goes with my pulse (pulsatile tinnitus)?
This has a different differential diagnosis, but the first step in evaluation is also history, physical, and hearing test. This needs to be evaluated.