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The 5 most common ear conditions

In this post we tell you which are the most common ear diseases so that, at the slightest symptom, you know how to detect them and go to a specialist

Otitis externa or media, hypoacusis, cerumen plugs and/or foreign bodies in the ear, are some of the most frequent ear conditions and problems.

Ear infections

They are the most common in infants and children. In fact, they are the main reason parents take their children to the doctor. Adults can also suffer from them, but much less frequently. Although there are several types, the two most common types of otitis are

  • Otitis externa: also known as “swimmer’s ear,” this is an infection of the ear canal, caused by many different types of bacteria or fungi. It appears in children and adults whose ears are exposed to excessive and continuous moisture, especially when diving or swimming with their heads under water (hence its nickname)
  • Otitis media: this is the most widespread type of infection and affects the middle ear. It usually begins when a viral or bacterial infection of the throat, a cold or other respiratory infection spreads fluid and mucus into the middle ear, affecting hearing, as sound cannot pass through all that fluid.

Seventy-five percent of children experience at least one episode of otitis media in their first 3 years of life. About 50% of these children will have 3 or more episodes of middle ear infection in their first 3 years of life

Tinnitus or Tinnitus

Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears, it can also be a rumbling, clicking or hissing sound. Its intensity and tone can vary: soft or loud, sharp or low, and affect one or both ears. Many and diverse are the causes of these annoying noises: hearing loss in older people, long exposure to loud noises, a poorly cured ear infection, Ménière’s disease (discussed below), hormonal changes or even the intake of certain medications.

Therefore, its treatment depends on the cause that originates it, ranging from the use of hearing aids or devices that neutralize or disguise the noises, to pharmacological treatment or habituation techniques so that the patient gets used to the sound until he/she is no longer aware of hearing it

Cerumen plug

It is an obstruction of the auditory canal due to cerumen and is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. In the outermost part of our ear there are special glands that produce cerumen, whose function is to trap dust and dirt particles so that they do not reach the eardrum. The plug is formed when trying to clean the ear and is pushed into the ear canal. Most earwax plugs respond to home treatments used to soften the wax, as long as there is no perforation of the eardrum

Ménière’s disease

Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear, whose main symptoms include tinnitus and vertigo, and is a common cause of deafness. Although there is as yet no proven scientific evidence as to its cause, it is thought to be related to fluid levels or mixing in the canals of the inner ear. There is no definitive cure, but the disease can be controlled by trying to alleviate its symptoms: medications against dizziness, limiting salt in the diet or taking diuretics that help the body eliminate liquids. For the most severe cases, there are devices that are inserted in the outer ear or even surgical treatments

Ear barotrauma

A hearing injury caused by changes in air or water pressure, such as changes in altitude. The sensation of pain or discomfort when taking off in an airplane is the most common example of this ailment, but divers can also suffer the most severe phase of this disease due to an incorrect decompression that affects the whole body and can lead to permanent hearing problems and deafness