At this blog, we are trying to answer some of frequently questions that you may have before visiting an ear surgeon.
Is there a cure for ringing in the ears (tinnitus)?
It depends on the diagnosis. Tinnitus is usually a result of hearing loss. It is important to see an otologist (ear surgeon) to get a full exam and hearing test to figure out if there is hearing loss, and the exact type of hearing loss. Tinnitus can also be caused by ear wax, infections, medications, stress, diet, headaches, and even blood vessels that course through the ear. So, depending on your diagnosis, tinnitus can be treated and potentially even cured.
Can vertigo be medically treated?
The otologist’s first step in treating vertigo is to determine if the symptoms are related to an ear pathology or not. Usually, dizziness related to the ear is described as a spinning sensation, rather than lightheadedness. Vertigo due to an ear pathology can be treated with a special head maneuver, medications, ear injections, or even surgery for advanced cases.
How do I choose an ear surgeon?
The ear is an extremely delicate organ. It contains a paper-thin ear drum and some of the smallest bones in the body. For this reason, it is important to choose an ear surgeon with the proper training in Otology (ear surgery). An Otologist is an ear, nose and throat surgeon (ENT) who pursued extra training with a fellowship dedicated to ear surgery (Otology). It is important to check the credentials of your ear surgeon and also to ask how many similar operations were performed successfully in the past.
I already tried hearing aids, are there any other options for hearing loss treatment?
Hearing aids are just one tool to help with hearing loss. Depending on the type of hearing loss and the condition of the ear, there may be various options to regain hearing. This includes clearing the ear of fluid, repairing the eardrum, repairing structures of the middle ear, and even placing tiny implants in the ear to help restore the hearing. It is important to see an otologist (ear surgeon) for a full evaluation before deciding which option is best for you.
I may have injured my ear with a q tip…what’s the worst that can happen?
It is not recommended to clean your ears with a Q-tip. In fact, every box of Q-tips sold in the US contains a warning not to use them for the ears! The skin in the ear canal is very thin and can get injured very easily. The most common form of injury is bruising or tearing of the ear canal skin, which could lead to bleeding. The more dangerous injuries occur when the Q-tip is inserted very deep in the canal and causes a tear in the eardrum and even displaces vital structures in the middle ear. It is extremely important to consult with an otologist emergency(ear surgeon) if you experience ringing, hearing loss, bleeding, or even dizziness after using a Q-tip.
I lost hearing all of a sudden, what should I do?
Sudden hearing loss is a medical emergency. Although the public is unfamiliar with this condition, it is a relatively common problem that is treated in the Otologist’s office. This type of hearing loss may be reversed if treated in time. There is usually a 6 week window to treat sudden hearing loss related to nerve damage in the ear. The best results are achieved if treatment is initiated within 72 hours of hearing loss onset. These treatments include oral steroids and injections. It is important to contact the office of an otologist (ear surgeon) to obtain a hearing test and full evaluation before proceeding with the best treatment option.