Hearing loss can have many different causes. The accumulation of noise exposure throughout our lives and the natural progression of age causes a deterioration in hearing. Some people are born with hearing loss and others acquire hearing loss as a result of ear disease, harmful medicines, head trauma and various other causes.
Middle Ear Infections
An ear infection is a bacterial or viral infection that affects the middle ear. Ear Infections often cause intense pain due to the inflammation and build up of pressure in the middle ear. Symptoms of middle ear infections often clear up in a couple of days, however, they can last over a week. Severe cases require a treatment of antibiotic medication.
Tinnitus refers to the perception of sound in the ear when no external sound is present. This is often described as a ringing sound, crickets, locusts, or a low roar. There is currently no known cure for tinnitus, however research studies are being conducted to find a cure.
There are currently tinnitus masking devices available that may help a patient better cope with this condition. For patients who suffer with hearing loss and tinnitus, hearing aids can alleviate both issues.
Ear wax (also known as cerumen) is produced by special glands in the outer part of the ear canal and is designed to trap dust and dirt particles, keeping them from reaching the eardrum. Usually, the wax in the ear accumulates, dries, and then falls out of the ear on its own or is wiped away. Using cotton swabs or other small objects to remove cerumen is not recommended, as it pushes the wax deeper into the ear, increasing buildup and affecting hearing.
An infection of the outer ear structures caused when water gets trapped in the ear canal, leading to a collection of trapped bacteria is known as swimmer's ear or otitis externa. Although it typically occurs in swimmers, bathing or showering can also contribute to this common infection. In severe cases, the ear canal may swell shut, leading to temporary hearing loss and making administration of medications difficult.
Perforated Ear Drum
A perforated eardrum is a hole or rupture in the eardrum. A perforated eardrum is often accompanied by decreased hearing and occasional discharge with possible pain. Sometimes a perforated eardrum will heal spontaneously, other times surgery to repair the hole is necessary. Serious problems can occur if water or bacteria enter the middle ear through the hole. Therefore, protection in the form of custom ear plugs may be recommended.
Mastoiditis is an illness that is a result of untreated ear infections. When an ear infection is left untreated, the infection may spread to a bone structure behind the ear, the mastoid bone, leading to deterioration of that structure.
Otosclerosis is a type of hearing loss involving the middle ear. The cause of otosclerosis is related to abnormal bone growth of the ossicles (a group of three bones important to the function of conduction and amplification of sound waves from the outer ear to the inner ear). The most common symptom of otosclerosis is loss of hearing, however this may be gradual.
A balance disorder is a condition that causes an individual to feel unsteady or dizzy. Sensations of movement, spinning, or floating may be experienced, even when standing or laying down. Balance disorders can be caused by some health conditions, medications, or problems within the ear or the brain.