Ear

Overview text of ear conditions

Cholesteatoma | Dizziness and Vertigo | Ear Infections | Eardrum Perforation | Earwax | Hearing Loss | Prominent Ears | Tinnitus

Cholesteatoma

Cholesteatoma is a condition in which skin debris accumulates in the middle ear. It generally causes ear discharge and hearing loss but may be related to other more serious complications. Treatment is usually with surgery to remove the skin pocket and repair the ear drum in an operation known as a mastoidectomy. Sometimes the small bones which carry sound through the middle ear (ossicles) may be damaged by the disease and may also need repairing. 

Dizziness and Vertigo

Dizziness may relate to many differing causes but vertigo (sensation of spinning) usually indicates an inner ear problem. A common cause is Benign Paroxymal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) which can be easily diagnosed with positional testing and treated with the Epley or Particle Repositioning manoeuvre. Other causes include Menieres disease which can usually be controlled with medication. Occasionally an injection of Gentamicin into the middle ear may be necessary to control symptoms. Labyrinthitis/ acute vestibular failure often occurs as a sudden attack which usually gets better on its own but sometimes recovery is slow or incomplete and treatment is needed. This usually takes the form of specially designed physiotherapy exercises.

Ear Infections

Ear infections affect either the external ear (ear canal) or middle ear. Sometimes an ear infection can develop rapidly so ideally treatment should start promptly to minimise subsequent problems. Ear canal infections (otitis externa) may require treatment with microsuction to clean the ear thoroughly before the use of antibiotic ear drops. Middle ear infections (otitis media) are more common in children and may be related to “glue ear”. This is a condition which may require an operation to place grommets (ventilation tubes) into the eardrum. Occasionally ear infections may be related to eardrum perforations or other eardrum abnormalities.

Eardrum Perforation

Holes in the eardrum may occur suddenly as a result of infection or trauma to the ear. Usually they will heal if left but will occasionally require repair in an operation known as myringoplasty

Earwax

The symptoms of earwax are usually benign but troublesome. Ear syringing carries with it the risks of eardrum perforartion and the development of external ear infections. Mr Hollis runs the clean ear clinic at Southbank Hospital where he performs gentle microsuction to thoroughly clean the ears.
www.spirehealthcare.com/southbank/ear-clean-clinic

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss may result from a conductive cause (outer or middle ear problem) or sensorineural cause (inner ear problem). Conductive hearing loss in children is usually due to ‘glue ear’ which may need treatment with an operation such as grommet insertion. A perforation in the ear drum may cause a hearing loss and so surgical repair by myringoplasty may improve hearing. The small bones within the middle ear form a very delicate structure and damage or disease affecting them will cause hearing loss – they can sometimes be repaired by surgery (ossiculoplasty or stapedectomy).

Mr Hollis works closely with a team of audiologists who are able to undertake hearing tests and dispense private hearing aids. www.jameshearing.co.uk work regularly at Spire Southbank Hospital.

Prominent Ears

Prominent ears may cause low self-esteem but can be corrected with a pinnaplasty operation. This may be appropriate in children at the age of 6 years onwards or in adults.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus describes a noise heard in the ears or generally in the head but not as a result of externally generated sound. It is common and generally harmless. Investigation may be necessary with a hearing test (audiogram) or even an MRI scan of the hearing and balance nerve region of the brain. Severe cases of tinnitus may require referral to the tinnitus retraining therapy service.