Hearing Loss The ear is an amazing part of the body that allows us to enjoy communicating with each other as well as the pleasure of shows, television, and music. In general, hearing loss can arise from problems with the ear canal, the tympanic membrane (eardrum), three small bones behind the eardrum, or the inner ear nerve. The most common causes include infections, tumors, trauma, and noise exposure. Hearing loss can frequently be treated with medicine, surgery or hearing aids. Of course, trying to avoid exposure to loud noises, as well as treating ear infections quickly is good general preventative measures. Early detection of hearing loss may well help to prevent further worsening of hearing with time. Hearing tests are painless and just take a few minutes to do.
Tinnitus Noise in the ear (or tinnitus) is very common. According to the Academy of Otolaryngology, tinnitus affects more than 36 million people in the U.S. It can be a roaring, hissing, buzzing, ringing, or pulsating sound. Not only is tinnitus frustrating and annoying, it can also be a sign of more serious ear problems such as infection, tumor, neurological disorders, or drug side effects. Depending on what appears to be the cause, management of the tinnitus may involve medicine, changes in diet, hearing aids, biofeedback and other options. Prevention of high blood pressure, reducing salt intake, decreasing stress and anxiety are frequently helpful as well.
Vertigo The inner ear not only allows us to hear, it also helps to regulate our sense of balance. Inner ear disorders can cause dizziness (“Vertigo”). This can be interpreted as a spinning sensation, lightheaded feelings, or a sense of being off balance, among other descriptions. The causes are varied and include infection, tumors, abnormal inner ear circulation, neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis or stroke, BPV (where a crystal o stone breaks loose into a liquid part of the inner ear), of allergy. Painless inner ear tests combined with radiographic studies such as Cat Scans or MRI’s are frequently used to determine the cause and therefore the treatment of the problem.
Nasal Congestion Chronic difficulty breathing through the nose is very frustrating and may reflect an anatomic problem such as crooked bone or cartilage or even growths in the nose such as nasal polyps. Stuffiness of the nose may well also be due to allergies from exposure to environmental pollens (e.g., tree, grass, weed), mold pollens, animal dander, dust mites. Food allergies can not only affect the nose and throat, but can also contribute to dizziness, as well as cause rashes or abdominal symptoms. Nasal congestion can contribute to a poor sense of smell, increased risk of sinus infections, snoring, and a host of other problems. Examination of the nose possibly combined with allergy testing and sometimes radiographic studies such as a Cat Scan are used to diagnose the problem. This can frequently be treated very successfully with medicine, allergy treatment, avoidance of the allergen, and/or surgery.
Hoarseness A change in the quality of the voice reflects a problem in the larynx (“voice box”). The two vocal cords are small muscles covered with mucous membrane. Hoarseness or a raspy or weaker voice may reflect irritation from either allergies or reflux of stomach juices into the throat (“GERD”). Voice weakness may reflect a paralysis of the vocal cord, possible from trauma, tumor, or neurologic disorders. Other causes would include vocal cord cancers. Examination of the voice box is definitely recommended if a person’s voice box is definitely recommended if a person’s voice stays persistently hoarse to determine the cause. Avoidance of tobacco, treatment of allergies and/or reflux, trying to not overuse the larynx, and humidification are frequently helpful.