What causes ringing in the ears?
Julie: What causes ringing in the ears?
Dr. Shaia: Ringing in the ears is a very common problem. Most of the time it is caused by high frequency hearing loss. And most of the time, ringing in the ears or tinnitus or “tinnitus”, either way you want to call it, doesn’t cause a person much trouble. We need to do a routine hearing test, make sure the hearing is symmetric, and then we can go into some medical management If the ringing in the ear is actually causing a problem with their lifestyle.
TOPIC: ANATOMY OF THE EAR
Dr. Shaia: This is the anatomy of a typical ear. It can be divided into three sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The outer ear consists of the portion of the ear that you see as well as the external ear canal and eardrum or tympanic membrane. The middle ear houses the three bones that help us hear and this is where fluid can accumulate that causes inner ear infections. The inner ear has our balance organ as well as our hearing organ, the cochlea, and helps us with our balance and hearing. This is the area where the nerves receive information and plugs into the brain. The middle ear is what we will focus on as this is where the fluid accumulates and the need for ear tubes arises. The eustachian tube which is highlighted now is the culprit or cause of ear infections. In children the eustachian tube does not become fully functional until around age 7 or 8. The eustachian tube is responsible for regulating the pressure and fluid that accumulates in the middle or ear space. If this tube does not work properly, then fluid will accumulate, and ear infections will occur. Sometimes the fluid is thin and can escape, but oftentimes the fluid becomes thickened and stays in the middle ear space. This can cause hearing loss as well as recurrent infections.