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806-355-9999

6826 Plum Creek Drive
Amarillo, TX 79124
Audiology Services

Our Hearing Center

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Ear Related Problems and Treatment

Our ears are the gateway to speech, music and the sounds of nature but they also bring damaging noise into our lives and can cause us pain and problems. Hearing loss increases with age and is caused from everyday things like lawn mowers, road construction, and even loud TV or radio broadcasts — all as the various parts of the ear become less responsive. Further, ear infections that inflame the middle ear because of bacteria from fluid build-up behind the eardrum can not only be painful but also present other complications

One of the other areas ear specialists treat every day is dizziness, which can be caused by a number of different reasons. Our clinic is dedicated to helping you find the exact problem you have and then crafting a solution.The research at the government-funded National Institutes of Health and other public-private and university programs is constantly yielding new insight into these age-old problems. New technology and tools are also always in development.

Our commitment to you is to keep you in-the-know about the latest developments in all of the ear-related health areas. Once you feel you’ve learned what you can here, our specialists would love to meet with you and listen to your unique symptoms. We’ve made it as easy as clicking on one of the options to the right and you’ll be starting on the road to better health and happiness.

Ear Infection

An ear infection is never something we want to deal with. However, it’s important to realize the symptoms of this common condition and available treatment options.

Symptoms & Causes

You might have an infection if you’re suffering an earache, difficulty or muffled hearing, high temperature or a liquid/puss draining from the ear. It’s important to consult your primary care doctor and an Ear, Nose & Throat doctor immediately if you are suffering severely from these symptoms. This condition is usually caused by a build-up of liquid in the ear because of an inflamed drainage tube.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your doctor might recommend one of several different options depending on the severity of your pain and progression of the infection. Mild cases can heal on their own without the need for a treatment solution such as antibiotics. The use of a warm compress and gargling with salt water are other low-cost remedies your doctor might consider. Conversely your physician might prescribe an over-the-counter ear-drop pain reliever or consider the use of antibiotics.

Prevention

The best treatment is prevention. The cause can be bacterial or viral infections so try to avoid germs as much as possible. Wash your hands frequently, keep your immune system healthy by getting sleep and drinking less alcohol, avoid secondhand smoke, stay current on immunizations and be careful not to overuse antibiotics as they can increase bacterial resistance.

Swimmer’s Ear:

Swimmer’s Ear is a common condition that can affect those who swim often or anyone with open exposure to high levels of water, sand, dust or dirt. The condition, which is called otitis externa, is a fungal or bacterial infection of the outer ear canal that many refer to as an earache.

Symptoms & Causes


You might be suffering from this condition if you’re experiencing fever, difficulty hearing or itchiness near the ear, sharp pain in your neck, face or head, a full ear, or redness and swelling near the ear. You should contact your doctor as soon as possible at the sign of these symptoms.

Diagnosis & Treatment


Your doctor may look inside your ear canal to determine how badly your infection has progressed. The physician may then examine any discharged pus or fluid to determine whether the infection is fungal or bacterial. Your doctor could recommend antibiotic ear drops for up to two weeks. Vinegar ear drops might also be an option. A thorough in-office cleaning might also be required to make sure the drops can reach the infected area. Other treatments might include antibiotic prescription pills or pain killers like Tylenol or Advil. During your treatment your doctor might advise avoiding swimming or scuba diving, flying, wearing earplugs, hearing aids or headphones.

Prevention


Prevention is always the first and best line of defense. Use shower caps while swimming or bathing or dry your outer ears thoroughly afterwards using a soft towel. Using a blow-dryer from at least a foot away is another option. After swimming also try a homemade ear drop mixture of half white vinegar and half rubbing alcohol to keep the canal dry and at the right acidity level.

Surfer’s Ear 

Surfer’s ear is not the same swimmer’s ear, but many people confuse the two conditions. Surfer’s ear is the result of an abnormal bone growth in the ear canal. What happens is the abnormal bone growth is made up of several bony growths called exostoses. Eventually surfer’s ear can cause partial or a complete blockage of the ear canal.

Symptoms and Signs

Early exostoses, associated with surfer’s ear, often do not result in any symptoms. As the bony growths expand, however, they fill the external ear canal and trap water. This leads to external otitis (an ear infection) and alters the shape of the ear canal. Some people have conductive hearing loss and ear pain with this condition. Other symptoms that could occur include dizziness, ear pressure, ringing in the ears, and ear drainage.

Cause and Concerns

The ear canal is narrow, and foreign objects and water can easily become lodged there. This causes pain and could lead to an infection. There is only one cause of surfer’s ear and that is exposure to wind and cold water for long periods. There are two types of surfers:  cold-water surfers and warm water surfers. Cold-water surfers are seven times more likely to develop surfer’s ear than warm water surfers.

Solutions and Options

If surfer’s ear is left untreated, you could lose up to 90% of your hearing. Surfer’s ear and swimmer’s ear are usually affected by the same type of infection. The infection results from a narrow ear canal that allows water or foreign object to become trapped. The only way to remove the water or foreign objects is to completely clean the ear canal. Generally, it takes several visits to an ear specialist for the ear canal to restore to its original state. In addition to cleaning the ear canal, antibiotics may be necessary. Sometimes more than one course of antibiotics is needed.

Surgical Treatments

Sometimes, surfer’s ear leads to a chronic form of the condition, and surgery is necessary. There are two types of surgical treatments for surfer’s ear:  outpatient surgery and laser surgery.

With outpatient surgery, you go home the same day of the procedure. One of our ear specialists makes a small incision behind the affected ear and removes the bony growths. The recovery time for this procedure is about a month.  During the recovery period, you cannot swim or surf, and you must be extra careful showering, so water does not reenter the ear. Surgeons strongly recommend the use of earplugs after the ear canal has healed. The surfer may return to the waves but only with earplugs. Surgery is only a temporary fix for some people, and this depends on the severity of the condition.

The second option is laser surgery where a laser is used to burn the bony growths and remove them from the ear canal. This recovery period is a lot longer with laser surgery, and the procedure will need to be done again with two to three years.

Summary

The best way to keep surfer’s ear under control is with preventative measures. For prevention, use earplugs and a special surfer hat or headband. The best advice is to use all three! If you think you may have surfer’s ear, call today to schedule an appointment with one of our caring ear specialists.

Dizziness/ Vertigo


Feeling dizzy and lightheaded can be an unsettling feeling but it’s common and treatable. It’s important to remember that dizziness and vertigo are two separate conditions often confused. Dizziness is more of a general faintness while vertigo is the sensation of the environment around you spinning.

We offer the very latest and proven diagnostic techniques evaluate your balance function and pinpoint the source of your problem. These highly accurate diagnostic tools lay the groundwork for your custom-tailored medical treatment by our skilled specialists.

The inner ear serves two purposes: hearing and balance. There are mechanisms in the ear that inform the brain about your position, orientation in space and movement and all times – to keep you in balance. A false sensation of spinning or whirling, known as vertigo, can occur when the signal to the brain is blocked or misfires. In addition to the sensation of dizziness, symptoms may include headache, nausea, and sensitivity to bright light, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, ear pain, facial numbness, eye pain, motion sickness, confused thinking, fainting and clumsiness.

Dizziness can also be a symptom of a more serious medical problem, such as high or low blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, tumor, medication side effect or metabolic disorders. Therefore you should always seek medical attention if you experience ongoing or repetitive dizziness.

Symptoms & Causes

There are many symptoms that can be related to dizziness such as weakness, confusion, dry mouth, pain in your chest, eyes, or head, tiredness, and lack of balance. The symptoms of vertigo are similar but the sensation is more akin to stepping off a merry-go-round after spinning for a while.

See a doctor as soon as possible at the first signs of dizziness or vertigo as they might be a sign of a serious heart condition or other health problem.

Common causes of dizziness:

  • Acoustic Neuroma: An acoustic neuroma is a benign growth on the Auditory or hearing nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain.
  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV): BPPV occurs when tiny calcium crystals in the ears loosen and begin moving about the wrong part of the ear. It is characterized by sudden, short bursts of dizziness that happen most often as a result of head movement. There is no known cause for BPPV. It usually resolves itself in a matter of days or can be successfully treated using the Canalith Repositioning Maneuver or Gans Procedure.
  • Inflammation of the Inner Ear
  • Dizziness may be one symptom of an inner ear infection.

Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s Disease is characterized by long periods of dizziness, lasting from 30 to 60 minutes or more. It is accompanied by symptoms such as ringing in the ears, hearing loss and a feeling of fullness in the ear. There is no known cause or cure for Meniere’s Disease, although medication and behavior changes can help reduce the severity of the symptoms.

Migraines

Some migraines (vestibular migraines) can cause a feeling of imbalance and vertigo. This may be accompanied by ringing in the ears or hearing loss. Migraine-related vertigo may occur in conjunction with or separate from the migraine headache.

We offer the Canalith Repositioning or Gans Procedure to treat Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), the most common cause of dizziness. Our treatment success rate for patients with true BPPV dizziness is over 80%.

Dizziness can also be a symptom of a more serious medical problem, such as high or low blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, tumor, medication side effect or metabolic disorders. Therefore you should always seek medical attention if you experience ongoing or repetitive dizziness.

Ringing in Ear (Tinnitus)

Nothing can be more frustrating and sometimes painful than ringing in your ear. You might see it referred to as tinnitus, but no matter what it’s called you just want it to stop. Learn More About Tinnitus