top of page
  • Writer's pictureWidex Emirates Hearing Care

Ear Disorders: Causes and Symptoms


ear disorders
Image Credit: https://entflorida.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/ear-infections.png

Our ear is one of our body’s sensitive and advanced organs. When something is wrong with it, it affects our hearing and balance. Most people are familiar with hearing loss, but there are other conditions that affect the ears and have a knock-on effect on our hearing. A variety of diseases and conditions can cause hearing problems, dizziness, imbalance and other ear symptoms.

Knowing about these conditions, their symptoms and effects is a must. Here is a rundown of the most common and known diseases found or caused in the ears.

What is the ear?

Our ear is the sensory system maintaining the balance and hearing needed to distinguish noises around us. It has three main parts: the outer, inner and middle ear. All of them are used in hearing. Sound waves pass through the outer ear, reach to the middle ear then reach through vibrations to the inner ear.

A variety of conditions might affect hearing and present discomfort in the ear. Let us take a look at a number of these conditions.


What causes ear disorders/diseases?

There are many causes that lead to certain disorders. Some are:

  • Infections caused because of bacteria or virus

  • Chronic conditions of the neck or head

  • Damages to the eardrum or the tubes found within the ear

  • Accumulation of fluid in any part of the ear

What are the symptoms of ear disorders?

The symptoms felt vary depending on the condition or disease. Some might begin suddenly and disappear instantly. Others might develop over time and lead to more serious conditions. They might occur in one ear only, a small part of the ear or both ears. They include:

  • Burning feeling in the ear

  • Ear, jaw or neck pain/discomfort

  • Flow of blood coming out from the ear canal

  • Feeling of fullness in the ear

  • Hearing loss

  • Hearing unusual sounds in the ear such as popping or clicking

  • Itching in the ear

  • Presence of spot or growth on the skin of the outer ear or the ear canalIrritation in the ear in infants and young children

  • Chills and fever

  • Irritability

  • Flu-like symptoms

  • Tooth pain

  • Poor feeding and fussiness in infants and young children

  • Seizure

  • High altitudes or pressure changes

What are the common disorders of the ears?

If you are suspicious about any ear disease, it is very important to seek medical advice either by visiting your doctor or your audiologist. They will provide their diagnosis and specific treatment plan. Without appropriate treatment, ear diseases can cause long-term problems and effects. Read more to learn about the types of ear diseases that can lead to hearing loss and complications.


Acoustic neuroma

acoustic neuroma
Image Credit: https://oto.wustl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Acoustic-Neuroma-lo-res-1-1024x627.jpg
  • It is a benign tumor growing in the acoustic nerve, which is the eighth cranial nerve found in the brain.

  • It can be caused by a loud, sudden noise such as explosions, music concerts or loud machinery.

  • It can affect your balance and hearing. In some cases, it might cause tinnitus.

  • It grows very slowly, so the symptoms might not show at early stages. Some of these symptoms are:

  1. Loss of balance

  2. Headaches

  3. Blurred vision

  4. Dizziness or vertigo

  5. Facial numbness

  • When doctors doubt that you have acoustic neuroma, they usually request tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or hearing tests. This helps them check whether there is a tumor and what size and position it is.

  • If not treated, it might cause serious and permanent damage to the nerves.

Presbycusis ear disease

Presbycusis or age-related hearing loss. This happens slowly with age, usually over the age of 65. Its primary symptom is having difficulty hearing. Others include:

  • Having to read lips when others speak

  • Raising the volume of the television or the radio

  • Trouble understanding speech in noisy places

  • Difficulty understanding higher pitches such as electronic sounds or children’s voices

The causes are a lot. Mostly are because of age-related changes in the inner ear, within the middle ear or along the nerve pathways to the brain.

Other factors are because of:

  • Hereditary factors

  • Aging

  • Heart diseases or diabetes

  • Loss of hair cells located in the inner ear

  • Ototoxic medications

Tinnitus

It is a sensation of noise in the head, usually displayed as a constant ringing, roaring, clicking, whining or buzzing.

It happens due to many causes such as:

  • Medication

  • Hearing loss

  • Middle ear infections

  • Fluid buildup in the middle ear

  • Head injuries

  • Neck and head surgery

  • Ear infections/diseases

Sound therapy and hearing aids are from the common tinnitus solutions or treatments for tinnitus.


Ear infection

The majority of ear infections take place in the middle ear, the part between the cochlea and the eardrum. Many microbes cause ear infections from bacteria to viruses. They migrate up to the tubes connecting the respiratory system to the ear. They then become established in the middle ear where they provoke inflammation.


Small glands that line the ear canal naturally produce wax. The function of this sticky substance is to trap microbes and dust, preventing them from penetrating the eardrum. However, the body sometimes produces too much earwax. It gets stuck in front of the eardrum and hardens, making it too difficult to be removed.

  • Patients with blocked ears undergo muted and muffled sounds.

  • They result in secondary infections around the blockage.

Swimmer’s ear

ear swimmers
Image Credit: https://www.mayoclinic.org/-/media/kcms/gbs/patient-consumer/images/2013/08/26/10/13/ds00473_im00394_r7_outerearthu_jpg.jpg
  • It is also identified as otitis externa.

  • It is an infection that people develop between the outer ear and the eardrum.

  • The name was derived from the fact that swimmers might develop certain infections while doing their lengths in untreated and dirty pools. When dirty water enters the ear, it provides opportunistic bacteria with a big risk to multiply. These numbers might be out of control, causing swelling and inflammation.

  • Swimmer’s ear can happen to anyone. All age groups are affected although it is more common in children.

Deafness

  • It is a complete loss of hearing. Some are born with, while others acquire it over time and it is caused by:

  1. Loud noise exposure

  2. Some medicines

  3. Malfunction of the cochlear located in the inner ear

  4. Irregular growth of tiny bones in the middle ear

Meniere’s disease

  • It is a chronic condition that affects the hearing and balance parts of the inner ear.

  • It results from the excess fluid buildup found in the inner ear.

  • There is no cure for Meniere’s disease, but there are lifestyle modifications that can minimize the severity of its symptoms.

  • Some symptoms include:

  1. Vertigo

  2. Hearing loss

  3. Tinnitus

  4. Feeling of pressure in the ear

  • Doctors often recommend patients to:

  1. take medications

  2. engross in stress reduction exercises

  3. expand their level of physical activity

  4. seek natural therapies to reduce symptoms

  • Surgery is a choice in severe cases.

It is an inflammation found in the middle ear. It is caused by a virus or bacteria that causes a fluid to accumulate behind the eardrum. It can happen as a result of a sore throat, a cold or respiratory infection.

This kind is not serious if treated on time.

The ones are risk for getting this infection are those who:

  • Are around people who smoke

  • Have family history of ear infections

  • Have a weak immune system

  • Spend time in daycare setting

  • Bottle-fed while lying on their back

Treatments might include:

  • antibiotic medication by ear drops or mouth

  • medication for treating pain or fever

  • combination of all the above

Otosclerosis

It is the abnormal growth of the small bones in the middle ear. It is from the common causes of gradual hearing loss in adults.

  • The stapes bone is part of a series of mechanisms converting incoming sound waves into nerve impulses.

  • In people with otosclerosis, it grows so large it no longer moves. When this happens, it no longer transmits incoming sound signals to the inner ear.

  • Treatments include hearing aids or surgery to reduce the size of the enlarged bone.

What are the treatments of ear disorders/diseases?

Ear disorders range from simple to complex. Some get better on their own and some require antibiotics.

For chronic ear infections, doctors might request:

  • making lifestyle changes

  • trying certain medications

  • treating causative allergy and sinus disorders

If these do not help, the doctor might suggest surgery. Depending on the difficulty, the surgery can be implemented either through a hidden cut behind the ear or through the ear canal.


If you are experiencing any hearing condition and you have doubts it might lead to an ear disease, it is very important to visit your audiologist. You can receive an accurate diagnosis followed by a treatment plan.

Comentarios


bottom of page