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|Normal Anatomy of the Ear|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
- The cochlea—the major organ in the ear responsible for hearing
- The 8th cranial nerve—the major nerve pathway and/or area of the brain responsible for hearing
- Impacted earwax
- Recurrent or poorly treated ear infections
- Perforated eardrum
- Fluid in the middle ear
- Inner ear disorders, such as Meniere’s disease or labyrinthitis
- Changes the bone structure of the ear—otosclerosis
- Birth defects affecting the structure of the ear
- Family history or certain genetic disorders
- Occupational or environmental exposure to excessive noise
- Cardiovascular diseases that affect blood flow to the ear and brain
- Certain medications, such as loop diuretics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or antibiotics
- History of infections, such as mycoplasma or meningitis
- Previous brain or ear surgery
- Neurological disorders, such as migraine headaches or multiple sclerosis
- Autoimmune disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus or Cogan syndrome (rare)
- Not receiving all recommended immunizations
- Higher pitched sounds
- Lower pitched sounds
- All sounds
- Speech when there is background noise
- The sensation of spinning when standing still—vertigo
- Ringing or other sounds in the ears—tinnitus
- Problems with balance
- In children, hearing loss may cause difficulty learning to speak.
When Should I Call My Doctor?
- Ear pain
- Problems with speech or balance
- Sensitivity to sound
- Weber test or Rinne test—To help distinguish conductive from sensorineural hearing loss
- Audiometric tests—A direct test of hearing
- Tympanometry—This test measures the pressure in the middle ear and examines the middle ear's response to pressure waves
- Electrocochleography—This tests the function of the cochlea and the auditory nerve.
- Earwax removal
- Modifying any dietary deficiencies
- Hearing aids
- Assisted listening devices that enhance the abilities of your hearing aid or cochlear implant to make sounds clearer and easier to hear
- Decrease inflammation and promote fluid drainage
- Suppress the effects of the immune system
- Face the person that you are talking to. This will allow you to see their facial expressions and watch their lips move.
- Ask other people to speak loudly and more clearly.
- Turn off background noise, such as the TV or radio.
- In public places, choose a place to sit that is away from noise.
- Work with a special trainer to learn how to lip read. Lip reading involves paying close attention to how a person’s mouth and body are moving when they talk.
- Stapedectomy—The stapes bone is removed or drilled, and replaced with a prosthetic.
- Tympanoplasty—Repair of a ruptured eardrum or the correction of a defect of the middle ear bones.
- Myringotomy—Incision of the eardrum to allow entrapped fluid to drain. Tubes may be placed in the ear to promote continuous drainage.
- If you smoke, talk with your doctor about the best ways to quit.
- Adequately treat ear infections.
- Get all appropriate immunizations.
- Treat all medical conditions as directed by your doctor.
- Avoid exposure to excess noise.
- Use adequate ear protection when using noisy equipment.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2016
- Update Date: 08/05/2015