The human ear is categorized into three sub-divisions which include the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The outer ear constitutes the external part of the ear along with the ear canal.
While the middle ear comprises the eardrum, the ossicles or the three tiny bones, and the eustachian tube. Several forms of disorders can affect the human ear leading to an unpleasant feeling and irritation.
Decoding The Common Disorders Affecting Ears
These problems do not persist for a very long term but score high on the distress factor, thereby affecting different areas within the ear.
Some of the common ear problems include glue ear, ear-popping or congestion, earwax, tinnitus, a foreign object within the ears, perforation of the eardrums, to mastoiditis.
While most of these threats do not pose any grave risk like hearing loss but if left untreated, might lead to severity of infection.
There are multiple factors which include exposure to loud noise over a long period, hereditary reasons, aging, infections, to injuries that might cause hearing loss. Some of these factors are discussed in detail.
Otitis Media or glue ear is a term used clinically to define an infection that affects one’s middle ear. Fluid build-up hampers the tiny bones called ear ossicles to function, thus disrupting the sound vibrations to travel up to the cochlea. One that results in hearing complications. An infection of the middle ear targets the three smallest bones named incus, malleus, and stapes.
Congestion of the Ears
Ear congestion, often regarded as ear-popping, harms the eustachian tube of the ears. The hearing complications begin when the eustachian tube is clogged, thereby creating a form of pressure within the ears.
This is one of those disorders that lead to muffled hearing coupled with persistent pain.
The congestion stems from infection of the sinus that is clogged due to multiple reasons, from the common cold, allergies, flu to external irritants and sinusitis. This is one of the most common ear problems affecting children as well as adults.
The ear canal is responsible for producing a wax-based oil called cerumen which is regarded as the earwax. The functionality of this element called earwax is to safeguard the ears from microorganisms, foreign and dust particles. The earwax also acts as a sheath in protecting the ear canal from any irritation caused by water.
This earwax tends to find its way out but sometimes, due to overproduction by the glands, the wax build-up gets hard. This leads to hearing complications once the ears are blocked.
Tinnitus refers to a condition where a ringing noise is heard in one or both ears. The source of the sound for which is not external. One of the common ear problems where other people are oblivious to the roaring sound.
The symptom is especially prevalent in older adults affecting 15 to 20 percent of the people. Aging, exposure to loud noises, medicines are cited as the reasons behind Tinnitus. The condition is described as a buzzing, hissing, and a whooshing sound affecting the ears.
Perforation of the Eardrums
Infection, injuries, and loud noises lead to perforated eardrums. A condition that defines a hole within the eardrums. Extremities occur in cases of take-offs and landings of an aeroplane.
The hole is cited for repairing itself without any additional issues. But there have been cases where infections relapse, leading to ear discharges. The wider the hole, the more prevalent the symptoms of hearing loss.
A foreign object within the ears
Any foreign object stuck within ears is felt; however, the case is not the same with small children. Some of the foreign objects stuck in ears include food items like small nuts, seeds, peas, etc. Other items include buttons, stones, beads, to mini toys. A condition that leads to earache and infection.
The same holds for cases of insects crawling into the insides of an ear. One might get irritated with a buzzing sound disrupting normal hearing leading to further complications and hearing loss.
A bacterial infection is affecting the mastoid bone behind the ears. Inadequacies in treatment for an ear infection often lead to it spreading across the surrounding bone leading to cases of meningitis, brain injuries, blood poisoning, and complete hearing loss.