• Sinus & Allergy
  • Ears, Hearing & Balance
  • Throat & Neck

Ears, Hearing & Balance

Ears, Hearing & Balance

Our ability to effectively communicate and function in our everyday lives are impacted by ear problems. These problems can affect people of all ages. Our three Physicians and our highly-trained Audiology team from the Victoria Hearing Center, can help through diagnostics and treatment solutions tailored for your specific needs. From ear-infections in children to age-related hearing loss, we are here to help. For more information on specific conditions we treat see our links to the left.

 

Learn More About The Various Types…

Ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor. Three out of four children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. Adults can also get ear infections, but they are less common.

The infection usually affects the middle ear and is called otitis media. The tubes inside the ears become clogged with fluid and mucus. This can affect hearing, because sound cannot get through all that fluid.

If your child isn’t old enough to say “My ear hurts,” here are a few things to look for

  • Tugging at ears
  • Crying more than usual
  • Fluid draining from the ear
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Balance difficulties
  • Hearing problems

Your health care provider will diagnose an ear infection by looking inside the ear with an instrument called an otoscope.

Often, ear infections go away on their own. Your health care provider may recommend pain relievers. Severe infections and infections in young babies may require antibiotics.

Children who get infections often may need surgery to place small tubes inside their ears. The tubes relieve pressure in the ears so that the child can hear again.

If you think that you or your child may have any ear infection, call our to make an appointment to see one of our physicians – (361) 573-4331

 

Source: NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Swimmer’s ear is inflammation, irritation, or infection of the outer ear and ear canal. The medical term for swimmer’s ear is otitis externa.

Swimmer’s ear is more common among teenagers and young adults. It may occur with a middle ear infection or a respiratory infection such as a cold.

Swimming in unclean water can lead to swimmer’s ear. Pseudomonas and other bacteria commonly often found in water can cause ear infections. Rarely, the infection may be caused by a fungus.

Other causes of swimmer’s ear include:

  • Scratching the ear or inside the ear
  • Getting something stuck in the ear
  • Trying to clean wax from the ear canal with cotton swabs or small objects can damage the skin.

Long-term (chronic) swimmer’s ear may be due to:

  • Allergic reaction to something placed in the ear
  • Chronic skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include:

  • Drainage from the ear — yellow, yellow-green, pus-like, or foul smelling
  • Ear pain, which may get worse when you pull on the outer ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Itching of the ear or ear canal

The health care provider will look inside your ears. The ear canal area will look red and swollen. The skin inside the ear canal may be scaly or shedding.

Touching or moving the outer ear will increase the pain. The eardrum may be hard to see because of a swelling in the outer ear. Or, the eardrum may have a hole in it. This is called a perforation.

A sample of fluid may be removed from the ear and sent to a lab to look for bacteria or fungus.

In most cases, you will need to use ear drops containing antibiotics for 10 to 14 days. If the ear canal is very swollen, a wick may be put into the ear to allow the drops to travel to the end of the canal. Your doctor or nurse can show you how to do this.

Other treatments may include:

  • Antibiotics taken by mouth if you have a middle ear infection or infection that spreads beyond the ear
  • Corticosteroids to reduce itching and inflammation
  • Pain medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Vinegar (acetic acid) ear drops

People with chronic swimmer’s ear may need long-term or repeated treatments to avoid complications. If you think you may have swimmer’s ear, call to make an appointment with one of our physicians – (361) 573-4331

 

Source: NIH

It’s frustrating to be unable to hear well enough to enjoy talking with friends or family. Hearing disorders make it hard, but not impossible, to hear. They can often be helped. Deafness can keep you from hearing sound at all.

What causes hearing loss? Some possibilities are

There are two main types of hearing loss. One happens when your inner ear or auditory nerve is damaged. This type is usually permanent. The other kind happens when sound waves cannot reach your inner ear. Earwax build-up, fluid, or a punctured eardrum can cause it. Treatment or surgery can often reverse this kind of hearing loss.

Untreated, hearing problems can get worse. If you have trouble hearing, you can get help. Possible treatments include hearing aids, cochlear implants, special training, certain medicines, and surgery.

If you are experiencing a hearing loss, call to make an appointment to see one of our physicians – (361) 573-4331

 

Source: NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Cholesteatoma is a type of skin cyst that is located in the middle ear and mastoid bone in the skull.

Cholesteatoma can be a birth defect (congenital). It more commonly occurs as a complication of chronic ear infection.The eustachian tube helps equalize pressure in the middle ear. When it is not working well, negative pressure can build up and pull part of the eardrum (tympanic membrane) inward. This creates a pocket or cyst that fills with old skin cells and other waste material.The cyst may become infected or get bigger. This can cause the breakdown of some of the middle ear bones or other structures of the ear. This can affect hearing, balance, and possibly the function of the facial muscles. Symptoms include:
An ear exam may show a pocket or opening (perforation) in the eardrum, often with drainage. A deposit of old skin cells may be seen with a microscope or an otoscope — a special instrument to view the ear. Sometimes a group of blood vessels may be seen in the ear.The following tests may be performed to rule out other causes of dizziness:
Cholesteatomas very often continue to grow if they are not removed. Surgery is most often successful. However, you may need the ear cleaned by a health care provider from time to time. Another surgery may be needed if the cholesteatoma comes back. If you think you may have a Cholesteatoma, call to make an appointment to see one of our physicians – (361) 573-4331

 

Source: NIH

Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears. It also can sound like roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing. It may be soft or loud, high pitched or low pitched. You might hear it in either one or both ears.

Millions of Americans have tinnitus. People with severe tinnitus may have trouble hearing, working or even sleeping.

Causes of tinnitus include

  • Hearing loss in older people
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Ear and sinus infections
  • Heart or blood vessel problems
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Brain tumors
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Thyroid problems
  • Certain medicines

Treatment depends on the cause. Treatments may include hearing aids, sound-masking devices, medicines, and ways to learn how to cope with the noise.

 

Source: NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Ear tube insertion involves placing tubes through the eardrums. The eardrum is the thin layer of tissue that separates the outer and middle ear.
While the child is asleep and pain-free (general anesthesia), a small surgical cut is made in the eardrum. Any fluid that has collected behind the eardrum is removed with suction through this cut.Then, a small tube is placed through the eardrum. The tube allows air to flow in so that pressure is the same on both sides of the eardrum. Also, trapped fluid can flow out of the middle ear. This prevents hearing loss and reduces the risk of ear infections.
The procedure is performed because the buildup of fluid behind your child’s eardrum may cause some hearing loss. But most children do not have long-term damage to their hearing or speech, even when the fluid is there for many months.Ear tube insertion may be done when fluid builds up behind your child’s eardrum and:
  • Does not go away after 3 months and both ears are affected
  • Does not go away after 6 months and fluid is only in one ear

Ear infections that do not go away with treatment or that keep coming back are also reasons for placing an ear tube. If an infection does not go away with treatment, or if a child has many ear infections over a short period of time, the doctor may recommend ear tubes.

Ear tubes are also sometimes used for people of any age who have:

  • A severe ear infection that spreads to nearby bones (mastoiditis) or the brain, or that damages nearby nerves
  • Injury to the ear after sudden changes in pressure from flying or deep sea diving
After the procedure, children most often stay in the recovery room for a short time and leave the hospital the same day as the ear tubes are inserted. Your child may be groggy and fussy for an hour or so while waking up from anesthesia. Your child’s doctor may prescribe ear drops or antibiotics for a few days after the surgery.
After this procedure, most parents report that their children:
  • Have fewer ear infections
  • Recover more quickly from infections

If the tubes do not fall out on their own in a few years, an ear specialist may have to remove them. If ear infections return after the tubes fall out, another set of ear tubes can be inserted. If you think your child may need ear tubes, call to make an appointment to see one of our physicians – (361) 573-4331

Source: NIH

Tympanic Membrane Perforation
Conductive Hearing Loss
Nerve Hearing Loss
Thyroid Disease
Parathyroid Disease