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10 common Types of Ear Diseases, Symptoms and Treatments

Ear-DiseasesEar diseases can especially be worrying because they could lead to pain and discomfort or even serious hearing impairment. Recognizing the symptoms of ear diseases early is critical for proper and immediate treatment and for preventing any complications that may come as a result of a disease or condition. Here are the 10 most common types of ear diseases, their symptoms and treatments:

1. Boils

A boil or furuncle that grows in the ear canal is often caused by bacterial infection. This infection usually starts due to a break or damage in the skin.

Symptoms

A boil is a small bump that is painful and itchy. It may burst, causing a discharge.

Treatment

A boil usually resolves on its own. If it does not, antibiotics may be prescribed along with painkillers. The doctor may also drain the abscess to relieve the pain.

2. Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s Ear or otitis externa is a condition characterized by inflammation of the ear canal. This is usually caused by the accumulation of moisture in the ear canal which later leads to irritation. If it worsens, it could lead to an infection.

Symptoms

Redness in the ear canal accompanied by itching and a clear, non-smelly discharge. As the condition worsens, so does the intensity and severity of the symptoms. Inflamed lymph nodes may be present, as well as fever.

Treatment

Medications may be prescribed to address infection and inflammation, and restore the normal environment of the ear.

3. Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s Disease is a disease that affects the inner ear, specifically the endolymphatic sac, also called the labyrinth. This semi-circular canal processes sound signals to the brain and is also responsible for the perception of balance.

Symptoms

Vertigo or dizziness, tinnitus (ringing, whistling, hissing, buzzing or roaring sound in the ear), dizziness, sweating and palpitations. Some degree of hearing loss may also be experienced.

Treatment

Some symptoms of ear diseases may only be treated but the root cause may have no cure. This is the case with Meniere’s Disease. To help alleviate the discomfort of the disease, drugs that combat motion sickness and nausea may be prescribed, along with diuretics. Dietary changes and stress management techniques may also be recommended.

4. Otomycosis

Otomycosis is the infection of the external ear canal caused by a fungus.

Symptoms

Inflammation, flaky, scaly skin and discomfort in the ear canal. Discharge may also be present.

Treatment

Topical antifungals and oral antihistamines may be prescribed to kill the fungi and relieve the symptoms.

5. Tinnitus

Tinnitus is generally characterized by a ringing in the ears, although the sound may also be a hissing, buzzing, roaring or clicking.

Symptoms

Unexplained sound in one or both ears which may be loud or soft. The sound may be high pitched for some people and low pitched for others.

Treatment

Tinnitus usually resolves on its own. However, stubborn cases will have to be diagnosed by an ENT to determine the cause so a treatment may be prescribed. Common treatments include sound therapy, TRT (tinnitus retraining therapy) and stress management.

6. Ear Infection

An ear infection is caused by bacteria that enters the ear through a tear in the skin or tissue.

Symptoms

Chronic, smelly discharge that may be yellowish, greenish or bloody; pain, redness and inflammation.

Treatment

Ear infections are often treated with antibacterial medications that may either be applied topically or taken orally. Treatment can be as short as a week for mild cases or longer for more severe cases.

7. Barotrauma

Barotrauma is the injury caused by a change in water or air pressure. This is usually experienced due to a sudden change in altitude, such as what happens when on an airplane, scuba diving, or driving up a mountain.

Symptoms

Barotrauma may start as a popping sound in the ears, followed by pain, dizziness and some hearing loss.

Treatment

Yawning, chewing or swallowing will help relieve the pressure. In some cases, decongestants may be prescribed.

8. Vestibular Neuritis

Vestibular neuritis is the inflammation of the inner ear caused by a viral infection.

Symptoms

Vertigo, mild dizziness in some cases, usually accompanied by vomiting. Mild loss of hearing, ear pain, and other symptoms similar to flu symptoms. Nystagmus, a condition characterized by involuntary movement of the eyes may also be present.

Treatment

The infection is treated with medication until the symptoms disappear.

9. Presbycusis

Presbycusis is a condition characterized by hearing loss as a result of aging. This usually occurs among individuals aged 65 and older.

Symptoms

Gradual loss of hearing, usually starting with high-pitched sounds, such as chirping birds, ringing phones, women’s and children’s voices, etc.; tinnitus, and difficulty hearing other people talk.

Treatment

When there is loss of hearing already, the doctor may recommend the wearing of hearing aids. If the hearing loss is mild and caused by loud noises, the doctor may recommend minimizing exposure to loud sounds and wearing protective equipment.

10. Cholesteatoma

Cholesteatoma is characterized by abnormal growth of skin in the middle ear. It is usually caused by chronic infection.

Symptoms

Growth of small pouches and cysts in the inner ear, leading to hearing loss. In severe cases, paralysis of facial muscles and dizziness may occur, but only rarely.

Treatment

Any infection present is treated with antibiotics. A large or infected cholesteatoma may be removed surgically.

If you suspect that you have an ear infection, please contact our office and schedule an appointment.

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