The Ear

This section of London ENT Unit focuses on the ear and the various conditions associated with this.



Ear Conditions

Hearing Loss:

Hearing loss is a common problem as we get older and around ten million people in the UK experience a degree of impairment or deafness. It usually develops over time but it is important to seek medical help as soon as you feel symptoms which include having difficulty hearing conversations, needing to turn the volume up on devices and feeling stressed or tired while listening.

You should consider seeing a GP if your child appears slow to learn, are not clear when they speak, asks you to repeat yourself often or does not respond to instructions.

Ear Infections:

Infections can cause problems in the outer and inner ear space. Patients can experience itching and swelling in the ear canal and even a discharge from the ear. They can be treated by a wick soaked with an antibiotic placed into the year to get to the point of infection with regular ear drops needed. Oral antibiotics can be prescribed in server cases. Cream or ointments can also be used to continue treatment but symptoms often recede after a few days.

The source of the problem can be a viral infection of the nose and throat or a bacterial infection in the outer ear from scratching after exposure to water. Symptoms can include earache, hearing loss, fever, dizziness and fatigue.

Balance Disorders:

Our sense of balance relies strongly on signals to the brain from the ear and it can be disrupted by infections and deformities.

The most common is a vertigo in adults known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo which gives the illusion of movement such a s short sensation of spinning, triggered by a change of head position after lying down in bed or after look up high or down low. It is caused by microscopic crystals floating around one of the inner ear compartments and stimulating nerve endings. A trained physician can perform four simple head manoeuvres which normally relocate the crystals and eliminate the disorder.

Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear, often associated with flu, that causes dizziness and loss of balance and Merneire’s disease is a disorder of he inner ear which causes prolonged vertigo and tinnitus, a ringing in the ears. It can be treated with medication to limit the vertigo symptoms along with dietary changes – in rare cases surgery is recommended.

Tinnitus:

It is often referred to as ‘ringing in the ears’ but patients can also experience buzzing, humming, grinding, hissing and whistling sounds. Severe cases can cause insomnia and depression and, although it is not clear exactly what causes it, ear-wax build up or an ear infection can be the catalyst. It is important to find the underlying problem that causes the tinnitus and physicians can prescribe sound therapy, counselling cognitive behavior therapy or Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, which helps the brain cut out the offending noise.

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