The ears are complex organs that capture sound and transmit these signals to the brain for interpretation. They are responsible for both hearing and balance, and essential in alerting us to danger and improving our quality of life. At Bartlesville ENT, we are committed to ensuring your auditory system is functioning as efficiently as possible and provide treatment for a range of diseases that affect the ear. From ear infections to dizziness and vertigo, our doctors have the experience and skills to treat all your hearing health concerns. The following pages offer information on many of the disorders we treat and the solutions we provide to improve your well-being.
If it seems like your child is constantly suffering from an ear infection, this shouldn’t be too surprising: children are far more susceptible to infection than adults for a number of reasons including anatomy (their Eustachian Tubes are still developing), an immature immune system and frequent exposure to germs in daycare and school settings. Our physicians provide excellent care for our pediatric patients, and will treat your child’s ear infection gently and compassionately, whether the solution is antibiotics, ear tubes, or other surgery.
Ménière’s disease is a disorder of unknown cause, presumably resulting from a fluid imbalance in the inner ear. Patients experience periodic attacks with symptoms that classically include vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss, tinnitus and fullness in the ear. It usually occurs in only one ear. This chronic condition has no cure, but can usually be managed through a combination of medications, lifestyle modifications and other treatments. Those Meniere’s patients with significant allergy symptoms may respond to allergy shots when testing demonstrates sensitivities.
Cholesteatoma is an abnormal skin growth behind the eardrum that begins as a cyst. If left untreated, it can grow large enough to damage the middle ear and can cause permanent hearing loss. In some cases, it can even cause facial paralysis or lead to meningitis. Symptoms may include drainage, earache, hearing loss, vertigo, and headache. Most cholesteatomas require surgery.
Ear infections are more common in children, but can affect people of all ages. They are usually caused by viruses or bacteria and often cause considerable pain and worry. Most infections can be treated by your primary care provider, but some infections are more frequent, severe or persistent. Our physicians and audiologists are trained to diagnose and treat all types and severities of ear infections.
Swimmer’s Ear occurs in far more than swimmers. Although often brought on by water that remains in the ears after swimming, most patients with swimmer’s ear haven’t been swimming at all. Excessive moisture in the ear for any reason aids in the bacterial (or occasionally fungal) growth. Putting fingers, Q-Tips or other objects in your ears can lead to swimmer’s ear by damaging the thin skin of your ear canal. Infections can cause drainage, hearing loss and pain that can be quite severe. Keeping water from entering the ear canals during swimming or bathing may be necessary; ask about custom-designed ear molds that can be fitted by our nurses or audiologist.
Children (and sometimes adults) who suffer with frequent or persistent ear infections may require a surgery to place tubes in their ears. These tiny cylinders, usually made of plastic or another soft material, are surgically inserted into the eardrum. The small opening in the tube relieves the abnormal pressure in the middle ear and reduces the likelihood of ear infections and fluid accumulation in the middle ear. Most ear tubes remain in the ear for six months to two years, generally falling out on their own.
Earwax protects the ear canal. By trapping dust and dirt, earwax protects the fragile skin of the ear canals. However, too much of a good thing can lead to earaches, fullness in the ear, tinnitus, loss of hearing, dizziness and infection. Although the buildup of excess wax can sometimes be removed at home or in a primary care office by flushing with warm water, Q-Tips are generally discouraged. Q-Tips can easily cause further impaction and sometimes damage or perforate your eardrum. Our physicians have special tools and training for earwax removal and have “cleaned” literally thousands of ears. We do not recommend the use of ear candles to our patients. See link “Why Ear Candles Are Not a Good Idea”.
A perforated eardrum is a tear in the membrane that separates your outer ear from your middle ear. It can be caused by infection, injury or disease. Symptoms vary; some people are completely unaware that a rupture has occurred, while others experience pain, fluid discharge, tinnitus, hearing loss, or dizziness. Most eardrum perforations heal on their own within a few months, though larger ones may require surgery.