The ear has three main parts, outer, middle and inner. In this blog, we’ll know how we use all of them to hear. Sound waves come in through your outer ear and reach the middle ear. So, the sound makes the eardrum to vibrate. The hearing mechanism depends on all these sections. The outer ear, middle ear, & inner ear. But, if the ear catches an infection, it needs to be treated.
The outer ear is made of solid cartilage called the pinna. Clearly, sound waves travel into funnels through the pinna into the external auditory canal. Afterward, cause the vibrations to the tiny bone structures. The vibrations are conducted to the nearby cochlea which is a spiral-shaped part of the inner ear. Provided that the cochlea helps transform sound into nerve impulses. The fluid-filled semicircular canals connect to the cochlea and nerves in the inner ear. They send data on balance and head position to the brain.
Outer Ear Infection
An outer ear infection or swimmer’s ear can cause a lot of problems. Sometimes, after swimming or shower water may remain in the outer ear portion. This water serves as a breeding ground for bacteria. The same can reach there via the finger or any other object.
The symptoms of an outer ear infection include:
- Severe pain
- Redness in the ear
- Tenderness in the earlobes
- A feeling of fullness in the ear
- Muffled hearing
- Ear drainage
Middle Ear Infection
This type of infection is usually originated from a cold, throat infection, or allergy attack. As we know, the ear has a partition wall called eardrum. It vibrates in resonance to the external sound waves.
The middle ear is located right behind the eardrum. Sometimes, cold or respiratory infections can block fluids from draining out through the eustachian tube. But in case the fluid is not emptied, it may result in bacterial infection. It causes the eardrum to bulge along with partial hearing impairment. This condition is called middle ear effusion.
Inner Ear Infection
Inner ear infection mostly causes irritation in the ear. The symptoms of an inner ear infection are:
- Pain in the ear
- Vomiting or nausea
Disorders of the ear
Earache: Pain in the ear can develop from a lot of causes. However, some are serious and some, not so much. Otitis media or inflammation of the middle ear is usually a result of an infection.
Swimmer’s ear: Inflammation of the outer ear or ear canal may also inflict sudden pain.
Perforated eardrum: Sudden changes in air pressure, infection, loud noises, or foreign objects can rupture the eardrum. However, the small hole heals within a few weeks. in severe conditions, it may require surgery.
Meniere’s disease: In this condition, the inner ear on one side malfunctions, may cause vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and pain.
Tinnitus: This condition is the result of damage from loud noise. The noise source can be a hearing device or listening to loud music.
Cerumen impaction: Ear wax can block the ear canal, the may result in reduced vibrations which leads to impaired hearing.
Acoustic neuroma: A noncancerous tumor that develops on the nerve traveling from the ear to the brain. This condition may inflict hearing loss, or tinnitus as symptoms.
Mastoiditis: First thing to remember, the infection of mastoid bone is mastoiditis. The same infection can occur following the negligence towards any other ear infection.
BPPV: BPPV is an acronym for Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It is known as the disruption of function in the inner ear. It may cause episodes of vertigo. Fortunately, this condition is not medically serious. But, the symptoms can be quite discomforting.
Also Read: The most effective method to improve hearing
How can an ENT specialist diagnose the disorders?
Ear Exam: The first test for an ear disorder is done by just looking at the ear using an otoscope.
Auditory Testing: An audiologist examines a person’s hearing in each ear. They can use sounds of varying volume and frequency.
Computed Tomography (CT scan): A CT scanner uses X-rays and a computer to create images of the ears.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A scanner creates high-resolution images of the ears and surrounding structures using radio waves in a magnetic field.
Treatments of Ear disorders
- Antibiotics: If the ear infection is the result of bacteria, antibiotics may be needed.
- Cerumenolytics: Drops of a solution of mineral oil, or hydrogen peroxide & water, as well as other preparations can loosen impacted wax.
- Irrigation (lavage): Gentle irrigation of the ear canal with saltwater and diluted hydrogen peroxide can cure some cerumen impactions.
- Antihistamines: A side effect of histamine blockers is a calming effect on the inner ear. It reduces the symptoms of vertigo.
- Surgery: An surgical procedure may be necessary to remove an acoustic neuroma. Surprisingly, kids with frequent ear infections may undergo advanced surgery to place drainage tubes.
- Positional exercises: Various exercise-based treatments may improve BPPV symptoms. They help the particles in the inner ear move around.
Advanced treatment: Is it worth the pain?
Particularly, a lot of research was conducted to develop advanced treatments. They are highly precise and modern. They can cure the symptoms and involves fewer cuts & wounds. Furthermore, the best part is it’s painless. Sometimes, patients feel mild pain which can be resolved with OTC medicines. So, yes, modern treatment is worth it.