Chronic Ear Infection

The diagnosis of chronic otitis media (infection of the middle ear) has been established as the cause of your hearing impairment. This condition may be active or inactive.

FUNCTION OF THE NORMAL EAR

The ear is divided into three parts: The external ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. Each part performs an important function in the process of hearing. Sound waves pass through the canal of the external ear and vibrate the eardrum that separates the external from the middle ear. The three small bones in the middle ear (hammer or. malleus, anvil or incus, and stirrup or stapes) act as a transformer to transmit energy of the sound vibrations to the fluids of the inner ear. Vibrations in this fluid stimulate the delicate nerve fibers. The hearing nerve then carries the sound impulses to the brain where they are interpreted as understandable sound.

TYPES OF HEARING IMPAIRMENT

The external ear and the middle ear conduct sound; the inner ear receives it. If there is some difficulty in the external or middle ear, a conductive hearing loss occurs. If the trouble lies in the inner ear, a sensorineural or nerve hearing loss is the result. When there is difficulty in both the middle and inner ear, a combination of conductive and sensorineural impairment exists.

THE DISEASED MIDDLE EAR

Any disease affecting the eardrum or the three small ear bones may cause a conductive hearing loss by interfering with the transmission of sound to the inner ear. Such a hearing impairment may be due to a perforation (hole) in the eardrum, partial or total destruction of one or all of the three little ear bones, or scar tissue around the ear bones or the eardrum.

When an acute infection develops in the middle ear (an abscessed ear), the eardrum may rupture, resulting in a perforation. This perforation usually heals. If it fails to do so a hearing loss occurs, often associated with head noise (tinnitus) and intermittent or constant ear drainage.

CARE OF THE EAR

If a perforation is present, you should not allow water to get into your ear canal. This may be avoided when showering or washing the hair by placing cotton or lambs wool in the external canal and covering it with a layer of Vaseline. If you desire to swim, apply the cotton covered with Vaseline and use a tight fitting swimming cap. You should avoid blowing your nose if you have an active upper respiratory infection (cold). However, trying to blow air through the eustachian tube into the ear is very important. This is done by pinching your nostrils completely shut and blowing hard against the closed nostrils. If done properly, air should come through your ear.

Medication as prescribed, should be used if discharge is present or when discharge occurs. Cotton is placed in the outer ear to catch any discharge.