Ear problems, including infections, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and wax buildup can cause pain and hearing loss and affect the quality of your life. Lloyd Loft, MD, FACS, is a highly trained and experienced otolaryngologist that can evaluate and treat a wide variety of common ear disorders that can interfere with your hearing, comfort, and balance. For expert evaluation and treatment of your ear disorder or dizziness, call or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Lloyd Loft at his Upper East Side, Midtown East medical office.
Your ear is a complex and delicate organ. The ear has two main functions, hearing and balance.
The ear has three parts, all with specific functions. The outer ear consists of the pinna, which is the part that is visible externally, and the ear canal. This part of the ear functions to collect sound and direct it to your eardrum.
The middle ear consists of the eardrum, also called the tympanic membrane, and the middle ear space containing three tiny bones called ossicles. The middle ear ossicles (malleus, incus, and stapes) are the smallest bones in the human body. The middle ear also connects to the upper throat at the level of the nasopharynx via the eustachian tube. The eustachian tube equalizes the air pressure in the middle ear space and drains small amounts of secretions into the pharynx. The function of the middle ear is to transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear.
The inner ear is housed deep within the temporal bone of the skull and can not be seen without specialized x-rays like a CT Scan or an MRI. The inner ear contains the organs of hearing and balance. The cochlea is a spiral shell-shaped organ that contains the nerves responsible for the sense of hearing. The inner ear vestibular or balance system consists of the utricle and saccule along with the three semicircular canals, which provide important information about your position and movement to your brain to help maintain balance. The specialized nerve cells of the cochlea called hair cells are responsible for converting the vibrations of the eardrum and middle ear ossicles into an electrical impulse that is transmitted to the auditory cortex of the brain via the audiovestibular nerve.
One of the most common problems that affects the ear is hearing loss. There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.
Conductive hearing loss can result from anything that interferes with the collection or transmission of sound vibrations from the external ear through the middle ear space.
Common causes of conductive hearing loss include an excessive buildup of earwax blocking the ear canal and fluid buildup in the middle ear space from infection or Eustachian tube dysfunction.
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by problems with the inner ear. This type of hearing loss usually involves damage or dysfunction to the specialized nerve cells in the cochlea. Common examples of sensorineural hearing loss include hearing loss related to aging as well as nerve damage from excessive loud noise or music exposure.
Mixed hearing loss involves a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Ear disorders can affect the external, middle, or inner ear. Common symptoms related to disorders of the ear can include pain, hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness, and ear drainage.
Common ear disorders that Dr. Loft treats include:
Dr. Loft will begin the evaluation of your ear problem with a thorough history of your ear symptoms and overall ENT and medical history. He will then conduct a detailed ENT examination with emphasis on the ear. Depending on this initial review, further evaluation may be recommended, including a hearing (audiogram) or a balance test. In some circumstances, a CT scan of the ear or MRI of the brain may be ordered to evaluate hearing loss or dizziness further.
The treatment of your ear disorder will depend upon the cause of your symptoms and the specific diagnosis.
For discomfort and hearing loss related to an ear wax impaction, office removal usually provides prompt relief of symptoms. For external and middle ear infections, cleaning of the ear canal with a microscope and ear drops and/or antibiotics would be prescribed. Some types of conductive hearing loss can be treated with medication, while certain types of chronic infections may require surgery. Mild sensorineural hearing loss often requires no treatment, while more significant nerve damage is best treated with hearing aids. Persistent or severe dizziness can be managed with a combination of medication and balance therapy.
If you suffer from ear pain, ear infections, tinnitus (ear ringing), hearing loss, dizziness, or balance problems, contact Lloyd Loft, MD, FACS, for expert diagnosis and treatment. Call the office today or request an appointment online.