From newborns to the elderly, people of all ages are affected by hearing problems. In some cases, hearing loss can be surgically corrected. In others, medical devices and rehabilitation therapies often can help reduce hearing loss.
Some of the most common hearing and ear-related problems include:
Many different types of ear infections require clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional. An ear infection occurs most often after you’ve had a sore throat, cold or other upper respiratory problem. The infection spreads to the middle ear and causes fluid buildup behind the eardrum.
Earwax impaction is a buildup of earwax. Buildup of earwax happens when your ear makes it faster than your body can remove it, and this can result in hearing loss
Meniere's disease is caused by excess fluid in the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance.
Signs and symptoms of Meniere's disease include:
- Recurring episodes of vertigo or dizziness
- Hearing loss, which may come and go
- Ringing in the ear
- Pressure in the affected ears or on the side of head
There is no known cure for Meniere’s disease; however, the condition is often managed by following a low-salt diet, using anti-nausea medications, when dizzy, and using a diuretic. If you are still having severe symptoms, steroids or surgery may be recommended.
A ruptured eardrum is a hole or tear in your eardrum and can result in hearing loss. A ruptured eardrum can be caused by middle ear infections, a very loud noise or high-impact trauma, or insertion of a foreign object into the ear.
Signs and symptoms of a ruptured eardrum may include:
- Ear pain
- Clear, pus-filled or bloody drainage from your ear
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in your ear
- Spinning sensation
- Nausea or vomiting
A ruptured eardrum usually heals within a few weeks without treatment. On occasion, it may require surgery.
Swimmer’s ear, called otitis externa, is an infection of the outer ear canal. This is the channel leading from the outer ear to the ear drum. Swimmer’s ear is usually quite painful. Treatment may include ear drops, pain medicine and keeping the ear dry. With proper treatment, swimmer’s ear usually clears up in about a week.
Tinnitus is the sound of ringing in the ears, which may come and go or be ongoing. There are many causes of tinnitus, and each may be addressed differently. Treatment varies from the use of hearing aids and medicine to counseling and relaxation techniques.