Ear, Nose and Throat
Ear infections and hearing loss affect 10 percent of the U.S. population. Dr. Smith is trained in not only both the medical and surgical treatment of hearing loss and ear infections, but also related disorders such as: dizziness, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and facial nerve disorders.
Otitis media is inflammation of the space behind the eardrum called the middle ear. This infection may be caused by bacteria or a virus. Otitis media may also be caused by the presence of uninfected fluid. If there is redness of the eardrum, there may be an infection present – this is called acute otitis media. Often acute otitis media is treated by antibiotics to kill the bacteria. If there is fluid behind the drum without any redness or infection, this is called otitis media with effusion. Effusion is another word for fluid. In this case, the fluid does not cause ear pain and typically goes away on its own. Antibiotics do not work.
A tympanostomy or pressure equalization tube (PET) is a tube that is placed into the eardrum to allow fluid and pressure to escape into the ear canal. PETs are usually placed during brief general anesthesia. An operating microscope is used to look in the ear canal. A small incision is placed in the eardrum, fluid is suctioned out, and the tube is placed into the hole.
External otitis means any type of infection of the outer ear canal. External otitis is different than the infection caused by fluid behind the eardrum (otitis media). There are generally two types of external otitis:
Acute external otitis is also known as “swimmer’s ear” because of its association with swimming in fresh waters. Acute external otitis is an infection by many types of bacteria, or less commonly by fungi.
External otitis can occur in children or adults. If not treated, acute external otitis may spread to the cartilage and bone around the ear canal.
Chronic external otitis is caused by irritation of the skin of the outer ear canal. Although it also may become infected by bacteria or fungi, chronic external otitis is primarily a problem of the skin. Chronic external otitis is associated with other skin disorders outside the ear such as eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis. Dr. Smith may also send you to a dermatologist (skin doctor) if you have persistent problems
Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ears)
Tinnitus is the medical name for head noises or ringing in the ears. Tinnitus may be continuous or may come and go. It may present as a high squeal or whine, and you may hear it in one or both ears. When the ringing is constant, it can be annoying and distracting. Tinnitus is very common. In fact, more than 7 million people are afflicted so severely that they cannot lead normal lives.
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