Dizziness is a general term that can be used to describe feeling off balance, unsteady, lightheaded, or spinning. There are many different causes of dizziness. These include heart problems, high or low blood pressure, stroke, metabolic disorders, dehydration, medications, anxiety, brain injury, or infection.
The inner ear is involved with hearing and balance. If something is off with the balance center in the inner ear, there is a misfiring with the messages that inform your brain about your position and orientation in space. This can result in a sensation that either you are spinning or the room is spinning around you. This is called vertigo. Other symptoms such as ear pressure/pain, ringing in the ears, headache, nausea, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and motion sickness can accompany the dizziness.
There are many types of dizziness that are caused by inner ear diseases. Some of these include:
- Benign positional vertigo- BPPV occurs when tiny calcium crystals in the inner ear become dislodged and cause sudden short spurts of dizziness, usually after changes in head position. It can last from days to months.
- Meniere’s disease - This is characterized by long periods of dizziness along with symptoms such as ringing in the ear, hearing loss, and ear fullness or pressure.
- Migraine - Vestibular migraines can cause imbalance and/or vertigo. It may or may not occur in conjunction with a typical migraine headache.
- Vestibular neuronitis - Dizziness can occur if there is inflammation in the inner ear due to an infection.
- Acoustic neuroma - This is a growth on the hearing nerve which causes symptoms such as singled sided hearing loss, ringing in the ear, and dizziness.
If you are experiencing any form of repetitive or chronic dizziness, please contact our office and schedule an appointment with our otolaryngologists.
Ears are made up of the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. All areas of the ear are susceptible to infections. If you are experiencing unresolved ear pain, you should have an examination to check for an infection and obtain the proper treatment.
Outer Ear Infection (Otitis Externa)- Outer ear infections are often due to bacteria in the outer ear which can happen when water, sand, or dirt gets in the ear canal. Symptoms include severe pain, drainage, itching, redness, and swelling of the outer ear. Complications of untreated otitis externa may include hearing loss, recurring ear infections, and bone/cartilage damage. Most infections can be treated with ear drops and resolve within ten days.
Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media)- Middle ear infections are caused by either bacterial or viral infections and can be triggered by allergens, infections elsewhere in the body, nutritional deficiencies, or a blocked eustachian tube. In chronic cases, the middle ear space can become filled with fluid. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of the infection. In chronic cases, surgical insertion of a tube to drain the fluid from the middle ear may be required.
Inner Ear Infection (Otitis Interna)- Inner ear infections are known as labyrinthitis and can affect the both the hearing and balance center in the inner ear. These infections are most often caused by other infections in the body and can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, hearing loss, and ringing in the ears.
If you suspect you have an ear infection, please contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our otolaryngologists.
Earwax is produced by the body to keep the ear canals moist and prevent dust and dirt from reaching the eardrum. Earwax normally works its way out of the ear canals naturally, but some people have a build up of ear wax which can cause blockage and trouble hearing. Using ear plugs, hearing aids, and cotton swabs can all contribute to ear wax build up. Wax softening drops and irrigating the ear with warm water are methods of removing ear wax at home. For more problematic situations, schedule an appointment to have your earwax removed by one of our otolaryngologists.
Tinnitus or ringing in the ears varies greatly in quality and frequency. It can be intermittent or continuous, heard in one or both ears, and sound like a low roar, a high squeal, buzzing, or many other sounds. Persistent tinnitus lasts more than six months and is commonly associated with the hearing system. Primary tinnitus occurs when no cause can be determined other than hearing loss. Secondary tinnitus occurs when there is a specific underlying cause. Some of the secondary causes of tinnitus include ear wax, middle ear infection, otosclerosis, muscle spasms, damage to the tiny sensory hair cells in the inner ear, excessive noise exposure, and medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and certain diuretics and antibiotics. It can also occur due to damage from other uncommon disorders including damage from head trauma or a benign growth on the hearing nerve called an acoustic neuroma. Pulsatile tinnitus sounds like a pulsing or heartbeat in your ear and may be an indicator of cardiovascular disease, arterial narrowing, or a vascular tumor in your head, neck, or ear. If you have this type of tinnitus, you should consult a physician as soon as possible for an evaluation. Tinnitus can be worsened by other medical conditions and lifestyle factors such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
If you are experiencing a noise in your ears that persists, contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our otolaryngologists.
Hearing loss affects millions of individuals. There are many different causes for hearing loss and it can present in a multitude of ways. It can occur suddenly, gradually, and in one or both ears. It is generally associated with aging, however it can happen to people of all ages.
Types and causes of hearing loss
There are three main types of hearing loss which are classified by which part of the auditory system is injured.
Conductive hearing loss - This happens when sound is not transmitted effectively through the outer ear to the eardrum (tympanic membrane) and the tiny ear bones (called ossicles) in the middle ear. This type of hearing loss is possibly correctable with medical or surgical treatment. Some common causes of conductive hearing loss include:
- Fluid in the middle ear space
- Ear infection
- Wax build up
- Eustachian tube dysfunction
- Eardrum rupture
- Otosclerosis (fixation of the stapes ear bone)
Sensorineural hearing loss - This type of hearing loss is due to damage to the inner ear, hearing nerve, or pathway from the inner ear to the brain. Some common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:
- Loud noise exposure
- Head trauma
- Certain medications
- Mixed hearing loss – This is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, therefore there is damage to the outer or middle ear along with the inner ear.
If you are having trouble with your hearing, contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our otolaryngologists.