Acute external otitis or otitis externa is an infection of the outer ear canal – the portion outside the eardrum. Most people know it by its common name – swimmer’s ear. It was named “swimmer’s ear” because it’s frequently brought on by water remaining in the outer ear after swimming, which creates a damp environment which supports microbial growth. This condition is also the result of scraping or harming the delicate skin lining the ear canal by inserting your fingertips, Q-tips, or other foreign objects to clean them. You should be aware of the signs and symptoms of swimmer’s ear, because although it is simply treated, not treating it can result in severe complications. When the ear’s natural protection mechanisms are overloaded, the result can be swimmer’s ear. Moisture in the ears, sensitivity reactions, and scratches to the lining of the ear canal can all encourage bacterial growth, and cause infection. Activities that increase your likelihood of developing swimmer’s ear include swimming (naturally, especially in untreated water such as lakes), aggressive cleaning of the ear canal with cotton swabs, use of in-ear devices such as ear buds or hearing aids, and allergies.
Eardrums are essential, playing two significant roles in hearing. First and foremost they vibrate when sound waves strike them. Second they provide a barrier that protects the inner ear from infection. When fully intact, the eardrum isolates the inner ear resulting in a sterile and clean environment. If the ear drum is perforated, the inner ear is left susceptible to bacterial infection. A perforated or ruptured eardrum (in medical language, a tympanic membrane perforation) is what happens when this important membrane is damaged by punctures or tears. There are various causes of punctured ear drums. The most common is an inner ear infection. Fluid at the site of the infection presses up against the eardrum membrane, increasing pressure until it ultimately rips. Some people rupture their own eardrums by poking foreign objects into the ears, for example the use of Q-tips to clear away ear wax. Another well-known root cause is barotrauma – the problem that occurs when the barometric pressure inside the ear is very different from the pressure outside the ear – which can happen in scuba diving and in airplanes. Eardrums can also become perforated due to head injuries or acoustic trauma such as quick loud noises or explosions.
Individuals with vertigo incorrectly perceive movement (commonly a rotating motion) in their surroundings. Feelings of vertigo can disrupt your balance and contribute to falls that can be critical among older adults; it might also be coupled with dizziness, sensations of spinning in space, and more infrequently, nausea, vomiting, migraines, visual irregularities including nystagmus, and fainting. There can be many root causes for vertigo, but one kind of it – benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV – is related to hearing. BPPV is attributable to calcium crystals that form naturally in the inner ear. Known as otoliths or otoconia, these crystals typically cause no problems for people. In people who are afflicted with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, however, these crystals become dislodged from their normal location and migrate into one of the semicircular canals of the inner ear that control our sense of balance. When this happens, and the person with BPPV changes the orientation of their head relative to gravity, these crystals move about, and cause an abnormal displacement of endolymph fluid, which results in vertigo.
Having difficulty hearing? Probably the most prevalent cause of temporary hearing loss is an accumulation of ear wax within the ear canal. Clearly, if you have encountered this or suspect that a buildup of ear wax might be causing some reduced hearing, you would like to clean your ears. The real question is the best way to do this safely, and without damaging the delicate tissues of your ear or your hearing. For that reason, when sharing this write-up of tips, it’s wise to begin with a reminder of things not to do. You shouldn’t stick any foreign objects in your ear. Regardless of whether it’s a cotton swab or other object, you’re much more likely to make the situation even worse by further compressing the ear wax if you go poking around in your ear. Also, avoid any kind of gadget that shoots a pressurized stream of water into your ears, such as a WaterPik, because this can rupture the ear drum. Furthermore, if you know that you have a perforated eardrum or believe that you have an ear infection, don’t attempt to clean your ears on your own, and see a hearing specialist instead. Signs suggesting a possible ear infection or perforated ear drum include vomiting or diarrhea, fever, ear pain and fluid draining from the ears.
A balance disorder is a condition marked by the symptoms of feeling unsteady or dizzy. Even while standing, lying or sitting still, a person with a balance disorder will feel as if they are moving, spinning or floating. While walking, people may feel as if they are tipping over. Primary symptoms include dizziness or a spinning sensation (vertigo), falling or feeling as if you are going to fall, lightheadedness, faintness, a floating sensation, blurred vision, confusion or disorientation. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, fear and anxiety or panic attacks. These disorders can be caused by anything that affects the inner ear or the brain such as medications, ear infections or head injuries. The risk for balance disorders increases as people get older.
There are a variety of reasons why Central Auditory Processing Disorder, abbreviated CAPD, is difficult to diagnose correctly. First, the problem is not grounded in the ears’ inability to pick up sounds, specifically speech, but on the brain’s inability to interpret and process them accurately; this fact can confound standard hearing tests that measure kids’ ability to hear clicks. Second, children with CAPD tend to develop coping behaviors which conceal their predicament, for example watching speakers’ expressions or reading lips to obtain clues to help them understand what is being said. The identical traits that make Central Auditory Processing Disorder tough to identify also make it complicated to treat; anyone treating a child with CAPD must keep these characteristics in mind at all times. Unfortunately there is no definitive cure or treatment for CAPD that works consistently across all kids. Each and every therapy plan is individualized and fine-tuned based on the patients’ limitations and capabilities. That said, there are a variety of treatment methodologies that can significantly enhance the learning abilities of children with Central Auditory Processing Disorder.
It remains a mystery as to why wearing eye glasses—which treat vision impairment—is perceived as a sign of intelligence, while wearing hearing aids—which treat hearing impairment—has been perceived as a sign of old age. Maybe it’s about time the stigma of hearing loss is reversed, and we redefine what it means for our bodies to interact with technology. The question is, when you look at someone wearing a pair of hearing aids, what do you think? Here are 6 of the favorable things we think wearing hearing aids says about you.
Menopausal women almost always end up wondering if hormone replacement therapy is the right choice for them. For some, the answer will ultimately be yes because their menopausal symptoms are interfering with their quality of life. While taking therapeutic doses of hormones can certainly help relieve some of those unpleasant side effects, it doesn’t come without risks. For years, researchers have been studying the effects replacement hormones have on a woman’s body. One of the more recent research projects found that taking hormones for a long time might even lead to hearing loss.
There are likely to be a few things you don’t understand about earwax. After all, it’s not a normal part of a conversation, right? Like what’s the job of this strange sticky substance and why is it made? Consider eight ever so interesting details about cerumen — that’s earwax for most people — that you didn’t even know were essential to hearing health.
Does earwax say something about you and your health? It’s more than just the gross stuff that comes out of your ears. Earwax, or cerumen, has a purpose in the human body. It serves to protect the skin that lines the ear canal from infections. It also provides lubrication and makes that canal somewhat waterproof. That’s all very important, but there is more to your earwax than just what it can do. The way it looks, smell and feels are indicators of what’s going on with you. What is your earwax trying to tell you?