OtolaryngologyOtolaryngology is a branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the ear, nose and throat. Some of the more common conditions are described below.
Hearing Loss - There are many causes of hearing loss including wax impaction, infection, degeneration of the hearing nerve and trauma. Associated conditions include tinnitus, which is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. Many cases of hearing loss are treatable. Examination and diagnostic testing are necessary to determine the specific cause of the hearing loss in each individual.
Ear Infections - Most ear infections fall into two categories. The first type involves the middle ear and is known as otitis media. This type of infection is more common in children, and usually results in ear pain and fever. It is treated with oral antibiotics and occasional decongestants. At times, fluid may remain behind the ear drum after the acute infection resolves, which results in a treatable hearing loss. When fluid persists, drainage may be required along with placement of a small tube in the ear drum to allow ventilation of the middle-ear space and correction of the hearing loss.
The second type of ear infection involves the ear canal, and is called otitis externa or swimmers ear. Patients may have severe ear pain along with discharge and hearing loss. It is treated with local debridement (cleaning), and topical antibiotic drops. Some cases of otitis externa are caused by fungus and require more complex treatment.
Sinusitis occurs when bacteria infects the sinus cavities (usually due to blockage of the small tubes attached to the nasal passages) ultimately resulting in improper or poor drainage. Although symptoms may vary, some of the more common symptoms include: facial pain, headache, and nasal congestion/discharge.
As with most medical conditions, symptoms can be either acute or chronic. When treating acute sinusitis, physicians may recommend decongestants to reduce the congestion, antibiotics to control bacterial infection, and/or pain relievers to reduce the pain.
Chronic sinusitis, on the other hand, can be much more difficult to treat, as symptoms tend to persist even after prolonged courses of antibiotic treatment. Nonetheless, the general mode of treatment is similar to that of acute sinusitis. In rare instances, surgery may be recommended.
The term vertigo refers to the sensation of spinning or whirling often associated with a disturbance in balance (equilibirum). It also may be used to describe feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness, faintness, and unsteadiness. Vertigo usually occurs as a result of a disorder in the vestibular system (i.e., structures of the inner ear, the vestibular nerve, brainstem, and cerebellum). It is important to diagnose the cause of vertigo, or dizziness, as quickly as possible to rule out other serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, hemorrhage, or carcinoma. Prognosis depends on the cause of the vertigo and how well the underlying condition(s) respond to treatment.
The information provided on this web site is for information purposes only and not intended to take the place of consultation with a physician. You should always consult a physician whenever you require diagnosis or treatment.