EAR

High Quality Care For Your Ear Issues In Roanoke

Cholesteatoma

A cholesteatoma is an abnormal, noncancerous skin growth that can develop in the middle section of your ear, behind the eardrum. It may be a birth defect, but it’s most commonly caused by repeated infections. A cholesteatoma may also be caused by a poorly functioning eustachian tube, which is the tube that leads from the back of the nose to the middle of the ear. The symptoms associated with a cholesteatoma typically start out mild. They become more severe as the cyst grows larger and begins to cause problems. Symptoms may include foul-smelling drainage, a sense of pressure, an aching pain in or behind your ear, and may even cause hearing loss on the affected side. Call your doctor right away if you’re having any of these symptoms. Vertigo, facial muscle paralysis, and permanent hearing loss can occur if the cyst continues to grow unchecked.

Ear Infections

Ear infections occur when a cold, throat infection or allergies cause fluid to become trapped. When there is not enough fresh air ventilating the middle ear, such as when the Eustachian tube is clogged or blocked due to illness, the area becomes damp, stagnant, and warm, a perfect breeding ground for germs. Mostly affecting children, symptoms may include earaches and thick, yellow fluid coming from the ears. An acute infection starts over a short period and is painful. If the pain from an acute infection becomes unbearable, a doctor may need to drain the ear. Ear infections that last a long time or come and go are called chronic infections. Children with chronic infections often have ear tubes inserted to help with drainage.

Ear Tubes

Ear tubes are recommended for children who either get lots of ear infections or have fluid behind the eardrum that doesn’t go away. These problems are most common between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, although older children sometimes have these problems. During an infection, fluid builds up behind the eardrum in a place called the middle ear. Normally, when the infection has run its course, the fluid drains into the back of the nose through the Eustachian tube. Sometimes this fluid doesn’t go away because the Eustachian tube remains swollen and can’t open. Ear tubes are small plastic or metal tubes that are surgically inserted into the eardrum for drainage and to allow air to get into the middle ear. Over time this “ventilation” helps to decrease swelling in the Eustachian tube and allows it to function normally again.

Hearing Loss

There are various types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive, congenital and mixed hearing loss, which includes components of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. The type of hearing loss can help identify options for restoring partial or full hearing and to prevent further deterioration or damage. Hearing loss can be either congenital, present at birth, or acquired, begins after birth. Sometimes hearing loss is only temporary and is caused by a medical condition such as a blockage of earwax or damage to the eardrum or it can be noise-induced resulting from exposure to very loud noise. Conductive hearing loss usually comes from a disruption of the sound’s path to the inner ear from the outer or middle ear and sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the delicate nerve fibers or hairs called cilia of the inner ear become damaged. The complex nature of hearing loss and its causes requires an experienced ENT.

ear issues

Ear Tumors

Tumors of the ear may be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant) and are discovered when a patient notices their hearing seems decreased and sees a doctor. Small, non-obstructing tumors require no intervention and other noncancerous tumors can be removed surgically. After treatment, hearing usually returns to normal. Cancerous tumors are often in the form of skin cancer and can be treated similarly. Ceruminoma is cancer of the cells that produce earwax and it develops in the outer third of the ear canal. Although these tumors do not spread, they are destructive to the canal.

Vertigo

 A balance disorder is a condition that makes you feel unsteady or dizzy. You might feel like you are moving, spinning, or floating even if you are sitting or lying down. If you are walking, you might suddenly feel as if you are tipping over. For one person, dizziness might mean a fleeting feeling of faintness, while for another it could be an intense sensation of spinning (vertigo) that lasts a long time. Balance disorders can be caused by certain health conditions, medication, or a problem in the inner ear or the brain. A balance disorder can profoundly affect daily activities and cause psychological and emotional hardship. Your risk of having balance problems increases as you get older. Unfortunately, many balance disorders start suddenly and with no obvious cause. Because of the dangers associated with dizziness as well as the possibility of more severe conditions, you should seek professional help if you experience dizziness.

Swimmer’s Ear

An infection of the outer opening of the ear and the canal, which connects the outside of the ear to the eardrum. This type of infection often results from exposure to moisture. It’s common in children, teens and adults who spend a lot of time swimming. An outer ear infection can also occur if the thin layer of skin that lines the canal is injured due to intense scratching, using headphones or placing cotton swabs in your ear. When this layer of skin becomes damaged and inflamed, it is exposed to bacteria. Earwax is the ear’s natural defense against infection, but constant exposure to moisture and scratching can deplete the earwax, making infections more likely.

Tinnitus

Ringing, roaring or other noises in one or both of your ears that aren’t caused by an external sound, and other people don’t hear. Tinnitus is a common problem affecting about fifteen to twenty percent of people, especially common in older adults. For many people, tinnitus improves with treatment of the underlying cause or with other treatments that reduce or mask the noise, making tinnitus less noticeable. Tinnitus is usually caused by an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, an ear injury or a problem with the circulatory system.

ear issues

Ménière’s Disease

A disorder of the inner ear that affects balance and hearing characterized by sudden episodes of extreme dizziness (vertigo), a roaring sound in the ears (tinnitus), a feeling of pressure or fullness in the ears and fluctuations in hearing. Episodes are often associated with nausea and vomiting, and they can severely disrupt activities of daily living. Usually appearing in a person’s 40s or 50s, it is much less common in children and young adults. The symptoms of the disorder typically begin in one ear and may involve both ears. Some people with Ménière disease have no symptoms of the disorder between episodes, particularly in the early stages of the disease. However, many affected individuals develop ongoing problems with unsteadiness, tinnitus and a feeling of fullness in the ears. Many people eventually develop permanent hearing loss.

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