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Ear Conditions

In this section you will find useful information on some common conditions affecting the Ears.

1. Earwax Removal

Everybody makes wax in their ear canals and it is perfectly normal and healthy to do so. However, sometimes the wax becomes hard and blocks the ear canal causing discomfort and hearing loss.

I am very happy to remove wax in the outpatients and most children are happy to sit still while this is done. It is often a good idea to put some softening drops in the ears first to make the process easier.

Please call my secretary for advice on this.

2. Glue Ear

Glue ear happens because the Eustachian tube, which connects the back of the nose to the middle ear, has stopped working properly and does not open as it should with swallowing and yawning.

As a result air becomes trapped in the middle ear and, as it becomes absorbed, a negative pressure develops and the ear drum gets sucked inwards.

Then thick mucus-like fluid is secreted into the middle ear behind the drum and this is called ‘glue ear’.

This fluid interferes with the passage of sound into the ear and can cause hearing loss or pain in the ears.

Speech delay is therefore another common problem caused by glue ear.

3. Recurrent Ear Infections

Ear infections are common and are usually not serious. However, if they are recurrent, grommet insertion may be recommended as they can help reduce the frequency of infection or make the symptoms less problematic by allowing the ear to drain.

4. Hearing loss

Hearing loss in children can be very obvious or sometimes quite hard to detect. An older child will tell you they are having a problem but with a younger one there may be more subtle clues. Such things such as the child shouting, ignoring you or turning up the volume on the TV often occur. The nursery or school teacher may comment that your child has become a little withdrawn or less keen to play with others.

Newborn Hearing Screening

All babies in the United Kingdom have their hearing tested shortly after birth. The purpose of this test is to pick up the very few who have been born with severe problems and allow them to be treated quickly.

Some children develop problems later on or may have milder losses which are not obvious until they are older.

Types of Hearing Loss

The ear consists of 3 parts; the outer, middle and inner. The outer ear includes the bit you see on the outside and the ear canal which passes down to the eardrum. The middle ear is the small space behind the ear drum which contains the three little bones of hearing. The inner ear is deep inside the head and connects the nerve of hearing to the brain.

1) Conductive Hearing loss

This type of hearing loss is due to problems in the outer or middle ear. Wax in the ear canal is the most common cause and this can be easily treated by removing the blockage in the outpatients.

The next most likely cause of such a loss is glue ear, which is fluid building up in the middle ear.

More rarely problems with the small bones of hearing or the eardrum itself might be responsible for a conductive hearing loss.

2) Sensorineural Hearing Loss

This is caused by the inner ear, hearing nerve or possibly the hearing part of the brain not working properly. If it is severe, consideration will need to be given to using hearing aids or in some cases an operation called cochlear implantation is indicated.