From the external structure to the inner cochlea (organ of hearing), the entire ear serves an important function in allowing us to hear all that is around us. The outer ear is exposed to infections, sunlight, trauma, among other things, which can lead to permanent damage. The middle ear is home to the ossicles (small ear bones – malleus, incus, and stapes) and is the space behind the ear drum. The inner ear includes the organ of hearing (cochlea) and the structures which help with equilibrium. The structures of the middle and inner ear can also be affected by trauma and infections among other things. Conditions affecting these structures can also lead to sudden hearing loss and severe vertigo (a sensation of the room spinning or that you are spinning). While many conditions progress slowly, we urge you to come in sooner if these more severe symptoms are noted.
Some of the issues affecting the ear which we treat include:
- Otitis externa (swimmer’s ear)
- Otitis media (infection of the middle ear sometimes presenting with fluid in the middle ear)
- Conditions affecting the middle ear bones
- Perforations of the Ear Drum (Tympanic Membrane)
- Dysfunction of the Eustachian Tube
- Hearing loss
- Dizziness or Vertigo
If you do not find your specific problem above, please contact us regardless. We will be happy to assess and address any ear concerns you have. With regard to hearing, we have an experienced audiologist, Dr. Laura Gentile, who will assess you, often on the same day. For further information, please read the audiology section below.
Audiology – Hearing Loss
Currently it is estimated that 31 million Americans suffer from hearing loss and communication difficulties. Hearing loss can have a profound impact on an individual’s emotional, physical, and social well-being. People with hearing loss are more likely to report symptoms of depression, dissatisfaction with life, reduced functional hearing, and withdraw from social activities.
Symptoms of hearing loss may include:
- Difficulty understanding what people are saying, especially when there are competing voices or background noise. You may be able to hear someone speaking, but you are not able to distinguish the specific words.
- Listening to the television or radio at higher volume is that in the past.
- Avoiding conversation and social interaction. Social situations can be tiring and stressful if you do not hear well. You may begin to avoid the situations as hearing becomes more difficult.
- Depression. Many adults maybe depressed because of how hearing loss is affecting their social life.
Increasing evidence points to a connection between hearing loss in cognitive decline in older adults. Reasons for the exact connection remain unknown. Researchers have speculated that social isolation and the additional mental demands of constantly decoding speech and environmental sounds may be a factor.
Untreated hearing loss over an extended period of time leaves nerves and portions of the brain underused. It has been documented that the longer someone ways to address their hearing loss, the more difficult it is to recover the ability to process speech and communicate.
A hearing test, or audiological evaluation, is a diagnostic measurement to identify the softest level (in decibels) that a person can hear across a wide range of pitches (frequencies). Additional components of testing involved specific speech tasks, which are used to determine the validity of testing, as well as your ability to understand speech at a given presentation level. Based on the results, recommendations may include referral for medical intervention with a physician or hearing aid consultation.
What is Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a medical condition characterized by persistent ringing in one or both ears I can only be heard by the affected individual. It has also been described as whistling, hissing, buzzing, or pulsing in the year. The sounds may come and go, but for most sufferers, the symptoms produce a constant, maddening drone. The effects range from slight annoyance to severe disruption of everyday life. The American tinnitus association estimates that more than 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus.
Tinnitus is most commonly a side of a different underlying health condition or because of damage to the auditory system. The majority of people who have tinnitus experience a treatable amount of hearing loss. In addition to hearing loss or damage the auditory system, other causes of tinnitus include the following:
- Disease or infection
- Head trauma
- Exposure to excessive noise
If you’re experiencing buzzing, pulsing, or roaring in your ears, we urge you to contact our office for an evaluation with Dr. Gentile and one of our ENT physicians.