Ear infections are infections and/or inflammation of the ear. It can reach different levels in the ear:
Otitis externa such as swimmer’s ear, which results in pain and inflammation of the external ear canal.
Otitis media, which can be both transient acute otitis media and persistent otitis media (with serous otitis and fluid discharge).
Internal otitis media (labyrinthitis) which is a consequence of poorly treated otitis media or following trauma.
Ear infections most often affect children but can also occur in adults.
Ear infections are usually treated with antibiotics and pain medication.
PERFORATION OF THE EARDRUM
The eardrum, the membrane that connects to the middle ear, can easily be perforated. Sound trauma, barotrauma, insertion of an object in the ear or infection, the causes are varied.
Once perforated, the membrane can recover on its own. Otherwise, it is necessary to undergo surgery to repair the eardrum.
Permanent tinnitus is a permanent ringing or buzzing sound heard only by the patient. It usually occurs following acute sound trauma or accompanies presbycusis.
This condition cannot be cured. There are, however, solutions for the relief of tinnitus such as hearing aids and sophrology.
Hyperacusis is a disorder of the hearing system that lowers the threshold of tolerance to sound. Depending on the intensity, this hypersensitivity can be more or less important or even painful. It can occur suddenly following a sound or psychological trauma but also following other medical events (head trauma, surgery, facial paralysis….).
To date, there is no treatment for hyperacusis. However, there are some approaches that can relieve the symptoms, or even reduce the intensity of the symptoms. For example: CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), gradual desensitization therapy, sophrology or hearing aids.
Otosclerosis is a disease of the middle ear and its chain of ossicles. Often hereditary, otosclerosis affects more women between the ages of 20 and 40.
This pathology results in poor bone development of the ossicle chain, particularly the stirrup.
This metabolic malformation disrupts the transmission of sound to the inner ear. It leads to conductive deafness, or even mixed deafness when it reaches the inner ear in the most advanced cases.
THE ACOUSTIC NEUROMA
Acoustic Neuroma is a benign tumor that develops on the auditory nerve and compresses it as it progresses. Among other complications, it causes hearing loss. Depending on its size and growth, surgery or radiotherapy may be considered to treat it.
Vestibular disorders concern pathologies that reach the vestibule located in the inner ear.
This organ, which is central in the management of balance, can be deregulated and cause chronic disorders such as Meniere’s disease.
This vestibular disorder, the most well known, is accompanied by attacks of vertigo, tinnitus and nausea caused, according to researchers, by a large quantity of endolymph (endolymphatic hydrops).
PREVENTING RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS
EXPOSURE TO NOISE
Noise is one of the main causes of hearing loss. Wearing hearing aids can help, but it’s best to be aware of this and take action before noise takes over your hearing.
Beyond hearing loss, prolonged exposure to noise can also involve other pathologies such as tinnitus and hyperacusis.
There are several steps that can be taken to avoid noise-induced hearing loss:
Wear hearing protection during noisy activities.
Take regular breaks from prolonged exposure
Rest after noise exposure
EAR INFECTIONS, THE IMPORTANCE OF MANAGEMENT
Ear infections such as otitis media are generally benign and can be treated very well. Nevertheless, they must be treated properly to avoid any after-effects. Some cases of otitis media that are poorly treated, for example, can have a permanent impact on hearing or even lead to the appearance of tinnitus. In case of pain or doubt, do not hesitate to consult an ENT or general practitioner.