Commonly asked

Ear FAQs

What causes an ear infection (otitis media)?

An ear infection is caused by improper drainage of fluid that collects behind the ear drum during a cold, allergy, or upper respiratory infection and the presence of bacteria or viruses.

What causes swimmer's ear?

Swimmer's ear (otitis externa) is typically a bacterial infection of the ear canal usually caused by exposure to water.

What are tubes?

Although most of the time, otitis media clears up with proper medication, persistent infections may require a means to drain fluid and pressure from behind the ear drum.

Why do I have ear wax?

Ear wax (cerumen) is normal in healthy ears. The purpose of cerumen is to moisturize and protect the skin of the ear canal and to trap dust and particles before they reach the ear drum.

How do I remove ear wax?

In most cases, swabbing the opening of the ear canal with the corner of a twisted damp washcloth will remove excess ear wax.

What's wrong with Q-tips?

The problem with Q-tips is that if they are used improperly, they pack the ear wax from the outer ear canal deep into the ear canal until it jams against the ear drum.

What is tinnitus (ringing or roaring in the ears)?

Tinnitus is very common and can be annoying and distracting. It might be soft or loud, low pitched (roaring), or high-pitched (ringing) kind of sound.

What might cause tinnitus?

There are various causes including a plug of wax, allergy, ear infection, circulatory problems, certain medications, and prolonged exposure to loud noise.

What is dizziness?

Some people describe their balance problem by saying that they feel dizzy, unsteady or giddy. This feeling of imbalance without the sensation of turning or spinning is called disequilibrium and is sometimes due to an inner ear problem.

What is vertigo?

The word vertigo comes from the Latin verb ?to turn.? Individuals with vertigo often say that they or their surroundings are turning or spinning. Vertigo is often due to an inner ear problem.

What is Meniere's disease?

Meniere's disease is a disorder that produces a group of symptoms: sudden attacks of whirling dizziness, tinnitus or head noise, a feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear, and a fluctuating hearing loss. It is believed to result from a fluctuation in the pressure of fluid that fills the inner ear.

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