Ears and Hearing
Blocked ears is a very common complaint in the community. Ear problems can present with hearing loss, tinnitus or pain. Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is a common infection of the external ear canal (the part of the ear outside of the ear drum). These typically cause pain, blockage and discharge from the ear. One of the most helpful and important treatments for this infection is to clear away the debris blocking the ear canal. Antibiotic ear drops are useful as they can eliminate the underlying infection.
Middle ear infections
Middle ear infections occur when there is an infection behind the ear drum. The pressure from pus build up can cause a ruptured or perforated ear drum. These usually heal themselves, but if they persist they can lead to hearing loss and increase the likelihood of further infections. Surgery to repair the eardrum (myringoplasty) is usually a successful way to address this issue.
Sudden hearing loss
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is when a patient suddenly loses hearing. Medical treatment with oral steroids is usually indicated early in the event to attempt to restore and prevent hearing loss from being permanent.
Blocked ears and eustachian tube dysfunction
Occasionally, the sensation of a blocked ear, pressure, or feeling muffled (particularly when flying, or with altitude changes) can be a result of a dysfunctional Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube connect the middle ear to the back of the nose and allows pressure to equalise between the outside world and the middle ear cavity. When the eustachian tube malfunctions, patients can feel like their ears are always blocked or under pressure. Whilst most eustachian tube dysfunction resolves, there are interventions which may help for those patients with chronic symptoms.