Posts for: August, 2020
By KO'OLAU EAR, NOSE AND THROAT
August 18, 2020
Category: ENT Care
If you’ve ever been to a loud concert then chances are good that you’ve dealt with ear ringing afterward; however, if you’re experiencing ringing in the ears regularly and symptoms seem to appear out of the blue, then you could have a condition known as tinnitus.
Tinnitus is the result of damage to hair cells within the inner ear. Tinnitus is most often characterized as a ringing in the ear, but others may hear a clicking, hissing, or whizzing sound. You may hear it in one ear or both and sometimes it can be loud.
While tinnitus isn’t dangerous it can certainly be annoying, especially if it’s loud or happening regularly. If symptoms are severe it may even affect your quality of life.
What causes tinnitus?
Along with exposure to loud noises (often from occupations in the construction or music industries), there are other causes of tinnitus including:
- A head injury
- Impacted wax or wax buildup
- Meniere’s disease (a condition of the inner ear)
- Certain medications (e.g. antibiotics; medication for blood pressure)
Can tinnitus be cured?
If tinnitus is the result of something simple like caffeine or impacted wax, then simply remove the wax or eliminate caffeine from your diet. Sometimes tinnitus will simply go away on its own.
Even though there isn’t anything that can cure tinnitus, your ENT doctor can provide you with a variety of treatment options to make living with tinnitus easier, such as:
- Adding white noise to your room (e.g. turning on a fan)
- Altering your medication (if medication is causing your symptoms, talk with your doctor before stopping or replacing medication)
- Wearing a hearing aid
- Trying acupuncture or alternative treatments, which may also provide relief
- Wearing earplugs to protect your hearing from further noise exposure, especially when operating loud machines (e.g. lawnmower; blender)
- Keeping your ears clean and seeing your doctor regularly if you are prone to ear wax impaction
When should I see a doctor?
If you are experiencing ringing ears that persist for weeks, then it’s time to see a doctor for an evaluation. If you also experience dizziness or hearing loss in one or both ears this could be a symptom of Meniere’s disease, and you should see your doctor right away.
If you are concerned about ringing ears, dizziness, or other problems affecting your ear health, then call an ENT specialist to find out what’s going on and how to best treat it.
By KO'OLAU EAR, NOSE AND THROAT
August 03, 2020
Category: ENT Care
The eustachian tube is a narrow canal that runs from the throat to the middle ear, and it is responsible for regulating pressure within the middle ear. If you’ve ever yawned and felt your ears become “unplugged” then you’ve experienced the Eustachian tube at work. However, sometimes people can deal with eustachian tube dysfunction, which can affect the pressure in the ears. Those with eustachian tube dysfunction may experience:
- Pressure or fullness in the ears
- Muffled hearing
- Pain in the ears
- Ringing in the ears (known as tinnitus)
- Issues with balance
- A popping or clicking sensation in the ears
Sometimes these symptoms are exacerbated by altitude changes such as flying or riding in an elevator.
Children are often more at risk for developing Eustachian tube dysfunction because these tubes are shorter than they are in adults. This means that it’s easier for bacteria or fluid to get trapped within the middle ear. The good news is that these symptoms usually go away on their own and typically without treatment. There are things you can do such as chewing gum to help make the issue go away. If the problem persists then it’s time to see an otolaryngologist.
Once your ENT doctor has conducted a thorough examination of you or your child’s ears there are several approaches for alleviating the symptoms of eustachian tube dysfunction:
- If Eustachian tube dysfunction is due to an allergic reaction then your doctor may prescribe decongestants or antihistamines, which can reduce swelling and target the body’s response to the allergen.
- A minor procedure can be performed in which an otolaryngologist makes a small incision in the eardrum to remove the fluid that’s trapped in the middle ear. The eardrum will then heal in a couple of days.
- Sometimes implants are placed into the eardrums to help drain the fluid and to prevent fluid from building up. This is a recommended treatment for children who develop frequent ear infections due to eustachian tube dysfunction.
- A special balloon catheter procedure (similar to the one used to treat chronic sinusitis) can be directed into the nose and into the eustachian tube, where it opens up the tubes to help them drain properly.
Your ENT doctor can talk to you about the different options for helping you or your child deal with eustachian tube dysfunction. While this condition is often self-limiting and will usually go away on its own. If symptoms become severe or problematic then it’s time to see a qualified medical professional.