Ear Services

Audiologists are the primary health-care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss and balance disorders in adults and children. Our audiologists perform comprehensive evaluations for people of all ages. They counsel and, with your doctor, assess the need for medical treatment or fitting of hearing aids and other assistive listening devices. They also conduct hearing conservation advice, balance testing, brainstem testing, and newborn hearing screenings.

Schedule an appointment with our expert team of Audiologists today.

Would you like to learn more? Check out some of the information we've gathered for you here:

Symptoms of Ear Infections

Types of Ear Infections

Other Ear Disorders

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Ear Treatments & Procedures

Hearing Loss & Hearing Aids

Symptoms of Ear Infections

The onset of signs and symptoms of ear infection is usually rapid.

Children

Signs and symptoms common in children include:

  • Ear pain, especially when lying down
  • Tugging or pulling at an ear
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Crying more than usual
  • Acting more irritable than usual
  • Difficulty hearing or responding to sounds
  • Loss of balance
  • Fever of 100 F (38 C) or higher
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
Adults

Common signs and symptoms in adults include:

  • Ear pain
  • Drainage of fluid from the ear
  • Diminished hearing
When to see a doctor

Signs and symptoms of an ear infection can indicate a number of conditions. It's important to get an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. Call your child's doctor if:

  • Symptoms last for more than a day
  • Ear pain is severe
  • Your infant or toddler is sleepless or irritable after a cold or other upper respiratory infection
  • You observe a discharge of fluid, pus or bloody discharge from the ear

An adult with ear pain or discharge should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Types of Ear Infections

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  • Acute otitis media - the medical term for the common ear infection. Otitis refers to an ear inflammation, and media means middle. Acute otitis media is an infection of the middle ear, which is located behind the eardrum. This diagnosis includes fluid effusion trapped in the middle ear.
  • Chronic otitis media ? when infection of the middle ear persists, leading to possible ongoing damage to the middle ear and eardrum

Other Ear Disorders

Cerumen impaction - Wax buildup in the ears

Effusion - a collection of fluid generally containing a bacterial culture.

Otitis media without effusion - an inflammation of the eardrum without fluid in the middle ear.

Otitis media with effusion - the presence of fluid in the middle ear without signs or symptoms of ear infection. It is sometimes called serous otitis media. This condition does not usually require antibiotic treatment.

Otitis media with perforation - a spontaneous rupture or tear in the eardrum as a result of infection. The hole in the ear drum usually repairs itself within several weeks.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

If you have sudden, severe hearing loss, you will notice right away that your ability to hear has decreased significantly or disappeared totally in the affected ear. For example, you may snap your fingers next to the affected ear and not hear it, or you may put the telephone receiver against your ear and hear nothing.

If your hearing loss is gradual, symptoms may be more subtle. You may have difficulty understanding conversations, either in person or on the telephone. Family members may complain that you play the radio or TV too loudly. You may ask them to repeat what they say or frequently misunderstand what they are saying.

Some diseases and conditions that cause hearing loss may produce additional symptoms, including:

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Discharge or bleeding from the ear
  • Deep earache, or pain in the ear canal
  • Pressure or a "stuffy" feeling inside the ears
  • Dizziness or problems with balance or equilibrium
  • Nausea

After you describe your symptoms, the doctor will ask if anyone in your family has (or has had) hearing loss. He/she will want to know if you have been exposed to loud noises, trauma of the ear or head, or ear infections. To rule out the possibility that medications may be the cause, your doctor will review the prescription and over-the-counter drugs you take. The physician will examine you and look closely at your ears. This may include:

  • Examination of your ear canal and eardrum using a lighted instrument for looking inside the ears (otoscope)
  • The Rinne test, in which a vibrating tuning fork is placed on the bone behind your ear to test for conductive hearing loss
  • The Weber test, in which a vibrating tuning fork is placed in the middle of your forehead to help diagnose one-sided hearing loss
  • Audioscopy testing, in which the doctor uses a hand-held device to generate tones of various intensities to find out if you can hear them
  • Our audiologists will test your hearing sensitivity (with audiometry) and check for middle-ear problems by measuring your eardrum's ability to reflect sounds (impedance testing). Further testing and treatment will follow.

Ear Treatments & Procedures

Ear Infection Treatments:
  • If your doctor thinks the infection is caused by bacteria, he or she may prescribe an antibiotic. (Antibiotics don't work for infections caused by viruses.) It's very important to follow the directions when giving your child the medicine.
  • Pain relievers like acetaminophen (brand names: Tylenol) and ibuprofen (brand names: Children's Advil or Children's Motrin) can help make your child feel better and reduce fever. Never give your child aspirin, as it has been linked to Reye's syndrome.
  • A warm (not hot) heating pad held over the ear can also help relieve pain from the earache.
  • Ear drops to relieve pain are sometimes prescribed.

Hearing Loss Treatments:

Both age-related and noise-related hearing loss tend to be permanent. Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, your doctor may recommend a hearing aid or an implant to improve your ability to communicate with others. A hearing aid amplifies sounds electronically and is effective for many people with age-related hearing loss. Newer digital technology has produced smaller, more powerful devices. A cochlear implant is a device that translates sounds into electrical signals that can be carried by the eighth cranial nerve to the brain.

Certain other forms of hearing loss may be treated medically or surgically:

  • Otosclerosis - For mild cases, a hearing aid is usually the first option. In severe cases, one of the small bones is surgically replaced with a tiny piston-like prosthesis.
  • Acoustic neuroma - Treatment includes surgery or highly focused radiation therapy.
  • Meniere's disease - There is no cure. Some people with this disease improve with a personalized diet plan (such as limiting intake of salt, caffeine or alcohol), quitting smoking, or medications to reduce fluid retention in the ear. In some cases, surgery may be considered.
  • Traumatic hearing loss - A damaged eardrum can sometimes be repaired surgically by using tough, fibrous connective tissue (muscle fascia).
  • Drug-induced hearing loss - Stopping the problem medication may reverse hearing loss or prevent it from getting worse.
  • Sudden sensorineural hearing loss - In most cases, when the cause is unknown, this condition is treated with steroids.
  • Other - A dense plug of earwax can be dissolved or gently removed from your ear canal by your doctor; also, antibiotics can treat hearing loss caused by ear infections.

Hearing Loss & Hearing Aids

Types of Hearing Loss

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View Video

Symptoms & Causes

If you have sudden, severe hearing loss, you will notice right away that your ability to hear has decreased significantly or disappeared totally in the affected ear. For example, you may snap your fingers next to the affected ear and not hear it, or you may put the telephone receiver against your ear and hear nothing.

If your hearing loss is gradual, symptoms may be more subtle. You may have difficulty understanding conversations, either in person or on the telephone. Family members may complain that you play the radio or TV too loudly. You may ask them to repeat what they say or frequently misunderstand what they are saying.

Some diseases and conditions that cause hearing loss may produce additional symptoms, including:

View Video

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Discharge or bleeding from the ear
  • Deep earache, or pain in the ear canal
  • Pressure or a "stuffy" feeling inside the ears
  • Dizziness or problems with balance or equilibrium
  • Nausea

Diagnosis
  • After you describe your symptoms, the doctor will ask if anyone in your family has (or has had) hearing loss. He/she will want to know if you have been exposed to loud noises, trauma of the ear or head, or ear infections. To rule out the possibility that medications may be the cause, your doctor will review the prescription and over-the-counter drugs you take. The physician will examine you and look closely at your ears. This may include:
  • Examination of your ear canal and eardrum using a lighted instrument for looking inside the ears (otoscope)
  • The Rinne test, in which a vibrating tuning fork is placed on the bone behind your ear to test for conductive hearing loss
  • The Weber test, in which a vibrating tuning fork is placed in the middle of your forehead to help diagnose one-sided hearing loss
  • Audioscopy testing, in which the doctor uses a hand-held device to generate tones of various intensities to find out if you can hear them

Our audiologists will test your hearing sensitivity (with audiometry) and check for middle-ear problems by measuring your eardrum's ability to reflect sounds (impedance testing). Further testing and treatment will follow.

Charleston Ear, Nose and Throat offers a variety of high quality hearing aids including ReSound, Phonak and many others.

Charleston ENT provides a complete range of digital hearing instruments, along with high tech specialty products and complementary wireless communications systems, to help patients advance their quality of life through improved hearing.