Hearing loss is very common, occurring in one in six adults in the UK. Common causes include noise exposure, glue ear (often treated with grommet insertion), a perforated ear drum and age associated hearing loss. Careful clinical examination followed by hearing tests will identify the cause of the hearing loss and determinate the best treatment. Mr Dale works closely with the audiology team, who carry out hearing tests and are able to provide hearing aids where necessary.
Tinnitus is the perception of noise (often a ringing sound) in one or both ears. It is associated with hearing loss, but also occurs for other reasons. Clinical examination and hearing tests will help to identify any underlying ear disease, and guide further investigations. Management of tinnitus includes treating any hearing loss, and rehabilitation therapy to minimise the impact of the tinnitus.
Infections may affect the outer ear (otitis externa) or middle ear (otitis media). Infections are often associated with pain or discharge, which can cause significant distress. Assessment includes a careful examination of the ear canal and ear drum, cleaning the ear of debris using micro-suction, and taking swabs to identify the cause of the infection.
Ear wax is common, and can lead to a feeling of blockage in the ears. Rarely, ear wax can accumulate to such an extent that it causes hearing loss. In these situations ear wax removal using a microscope and fine suction will alleviate symptoms.
The are several different types of dizziness, but vertigo (the illusion of movement) may indicate a problem with the balance system in the ear. A thorough history and examination will identifying the causes of dizziness and guide further management. One common cause is benign positional vertigo. This results from loose calcium carbonate crystals in the inner ear, and is effectively treated by an Epley manoeuvre.