Otitis Media

In medical terms a common ear infection is called otitis media. It is an infection that occurs in the space behind the eardrum.

Ear infections are caused by bacteria or viruses. They infect and trap fluid behind the eardrum, causing pain, congestion and swelling of the ear drum. Many times an ear infection occurs after a bout of cold/flu or some respiratory infections or even an allergy. Children are more likely to get ear infections, rather than adults. Ear pain, fluid draining from ear, hearing loss and fever are some of the symptoms of an ear infection. A physical ear exam by the ENT doctor can determine the type of ear infection. Tympanometry, hearing test are some of the other tests that can be done for a detailed evaluation.

Hearing Evaluation

Hearing is the perception of sound through our ears and placing a meaning to that sound. Hearing loss is a condition that happens when any part of the ear doesn’t function the way it should. A hearing test or evaluation provides a measurement of the sensitivity of a person’s hearing across the full range of speech.

Loss of hearing can make it very difficult to participate in everyday life. The ability to hear can be impacted by disease, age, structural damage to the ear, medication, high exposure to sound and also genetics. Doctors classify hearing loss by degrees – mild, moderate, severe and profound. An evaluation by the ENT doctor can determine the underlying cause of hearing loss. Tests like audiometry, tuning fork test, general screening are some of the ways to evaluate ones hearing ability. These tests are non-invasive and an ENT doctor can help in determining the correct form of medical intervention.

Nasal Obstruction

Nasal obstruction is not a disease but rather it is a symptom of an underlying disorder. It can cause the nasal passages to be obstructed or blocked.

The most common causes of nasal obstruction can be enlarged adenoids and nasal allergies. Other less common causes can be polyps, tumors and congenital abnormalities. Patients with nasal obstruction mostly present with breathing difficulties – inability or decreased ability to breathe from one or both nostrils. This can affect sleep and also cause snoring. A nasal exam by the ENT along with X-rays or CT scans or other methods can determine the right cause of nasal obstruction.


Vertigo is the false sensation that you are spinning or that inside of your head is spinning. It is usually triggered by sudden head movements.

Vertigo is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying health cause. It can make one feel dizzy and off-balance. The signs and symptoms of vertigo can come and go, lasting for varying periods of time. Vertigo is generally caused by problems of the inner ear. A viral infection, head or neck injury, build-up of fluid inside the ear and some medications can cause vertigo. An ENT doctor will help diagnose and treat the underlying cause in the most effective way and find a treatment plan suitable to you.

This happens due to quite a few factors. The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. A bacterial or viral infection causes the tube to swell and become blocked, which keeps the normally produced fluids to build up in the middle ear instead of being able to be drained away. The trapped fluid can then become infected causing an ear infection. The Eustachian tube in children is shorter and with less slope, than adults, making it easier to become clogged and more difficult to drain. Secondly, children have more trouble fighting infections. Enlarged adenoids also interfere with the proper working of the Eustachian tube.

Most ear infections do not cause any long-term problems but if left untreated it can have adverse effects. There can be some temporary loss of hearing which could in turn affect a child’s speech and language development because to learn a child needs to hear. Long-lasting fluid in the ear can cause a tear in the eardrum. If the tear doesn’t heal on its own, surgery may be needed. The infection if left untreated or not fully resolved can spread beyond the ear to the brain and spinal cord.

Swimming is okay if one does not have an ear perforation (tear) or have fluid coming out of the ear. Air travel is safe and so is being at high altitudes. There could some temporary pain during take-off and landing, which can be managed by swallowing fluids or chewing a gum.

Regardless of one’s age or job, one should get a hearing test done if you feel that you are not hearing as well as you used to. People older than 60 or those working in high-noise occupations are most at risk of developing hearing loss. Certain medications and health conditions can cause hearing loss in young and middle-aged adults.

There are 3 types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive: Involves an ear infection or blockage and is not permanent.
  • Sensorineural: Involves nerve damage and is permanent.
  • Mixed: It is a combination of the above two.

Any defect in the balance system of the body resulting in vertigo or unsteadiness or imbalance will affect the day-to-day activities of the sufferer and diminish the quality of life. Fear of falling or movement can subject one to become sedentary. If vertigo is the result of a health complication you’re not treating, vertigo symptoms may become worse.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo, or false sense of spinning. Its each word describes the condition: 

  • Benign: It is not life-threatening even if symptoms feel intense.
  • Paroxysmal: It comes in sudden, short spells.
  • Positional: Certain head movements/positions can trigger a spell.
  • Vertigo: Feeling of oneself or the surroundings spinning.

Vertigo may occur before the onset of a headache, during a headache or during a headache-free period. It should be noted, though, that some people have vertigo as their main migraine symptom instead of a headache.