Hearing Loss, Hearing Balance & Facial Nerve Disorders
An acoustic neuroma is a benign, slow-growing tumor that develops on the nerve connecting the inner ear to the brain. Early symptoms are often subtle and are usually a direct result of the tumor disrupting the auditory nerve, nearby blood vessels, or brain structures.
Autoimmune Inner-Ear Disease
Autoimmune inner-ear disease is a rare condition in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks normal inner-ear cells as if they were a virus or bacteria. The resultant inflammation causes rapidly progressive hearing loss and includes other symptoms such as tinnitus, balance problems, and the feeling of plugged ears.
Cholesteatomas are abnormal growths of skin tissue within the middle ear, caused by problems such as ear infection.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when disease, trauma, infection, or another problem causes sound waves to travel poorly through the outer ear canal to the eardrum, the middle ear’s three tiny bones, and the inner ear.
Dizziness and Vertigo
Symptoms such as lightheadedness, nausea, blurred vision, and a feeling of unsteadiness may point to dizziness or motion sickness, which involve balance and equilibrium, both controlled by the body’s vestibular system.
Earaches and Otitis Media
Ear pain in one or both ears may be a symptom of otitis media, inflammation of the middle ear. This may be caused by an infection.
Facial Paralysis and Bell’s Palsy
Bell’s palsy typically involves temporary paralysis on one side of the face, with potential symptoms such as facial weakness, drooping, or stiffness; drooling; jaw pain; and difficulty tasting, smiling, or closing the eye. It’s a rare condition that normally resolves itself, but medication may help with certain symptoms.
Rare, noncancerous, and slow growing, glomus tumors are categorized by two types: glomus jugulare and glomus tympanicum. They are comprised of blood channels flowing through the tumor itself. Glomus tympanicum tumors develop in the middle ear, while glomus jugulare tumors form closer to the inner ear on the jugular bulb.
Trouble listening amid background noise, following conversations even in small groups, or understanding what’s being said on TV and on the phone can indicate a hearing loss. Most hearing loss can be treated, especially with early detection through regular checkups.
Hearing Loss and Ear Infection
Ear infections aren’t unusual in childhood, but sometimes they keep coming back or won’t clear up with antibiotic treatment. They can lead to serious problems such as hearing loss and should be addressed quickly.
Hyperacusis is a disorder involving heightened sensitivity to common sounds such as running water, the crunch of leaves, and other everyday noises that typically would not annoy or alarm most people.
Ménière’s disease is an inner-ear disorder that impacts balance and hearing and typically affects people approaching middle age, with onset occurring sometime during their 40s to 60s. It can affect one or both ears and cause symptoms such as extreme dizziness, tinnitus, a feeling of fullness in the ear, and hearing loss.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Excess noise can irreparably damage the inner ear’s tiny hair cells, which can lead to permanent hearing loss. Hearing protection; avoidance of sounds louder than 85 decibels; and careful use of MP3 players, earbuds, and headphones can help reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.
Otosclerosis is a disease of abnormal bone growth in the middle ear. It mainly causes gradual hearing loss in one or both ears but also includes other symptoms such as tinnitus and vertigo.
Perforated / Ruptured Eardrum
A perforated or ruptured eardrum involves a rupture, tear, or hole in the tympanic membrane between the ear canal and middle ear. Causes can include head injury, barotrauma, fluid buildup from infection, a sudden explosive sound, or an object pushed into the ear.
Swimmer’s Ear / Otitis Externa
Swimmer’s ear is an outer-ear infection typically caused by bacterial or fungal growth when the skin in the ear canal becomes macerated from activities such as swimming, allowing microbes to infect the ear canal. It can cause pain, fever, temporary hearing loss, and other symptoms but is treatable.
Tinnitus is the perception of ringing, buzzing, humming, clicking, or other sounds in one or both ears that no one else can hear. It’s a symptom of an underlying medical condition, typically hearing loss.
Cochlear implants are small, surgically placed electronic devices comprising an external part behind the ear and an internal part under the skin that do the work of the damaged inner ear. They create the sensation of sound when profound hearing loss can’t be sufficiently improved by hearing aids.
Ear tubes or tympanostomy tubes are small cylinders surgically inserted in the eardrum to relieve chronic ear infection or persistent middle-ear fluid. Ear-tube insertion is especially common for children.