If you have a question or concern, send us an email. A doctor from one of our centers will answer your question in confidence. We may post the Q & A on the blog if space permits to help others who may have the same question, but will not use your name.

Runny Ear & Hearing Loss

Question:

I have lost a lot of my hearing. I also have a running ear on one side (liquid comes out of the ear). Are there any cures or surgery out there? Thanks.

Answer:

Ear drainage suggests that there is an ongoing infection or problem. It should be evaluated. There is a good chance that surgery could be a solution.

–Dr. Neil Sperling

If you have a question or concern, send us an email. A doctor from one of our centers will answer your question in confidence. We may post the Q & A on the blog if space permits to help others who may have the same question, but will not use your name.

I have had an ear infection and echoing for 7 weeks

Question:

My name is Don, 43 had an ear infection in both ears. Started in my left ear and my family doctor gave me ear drops than my right ear got infected. So the doctor prescribed antibiotics. The infection went down but she prescribed another round of antibiotics. The infection went away but was having echo noises. She prescribed steroids, but still the echo still there. Then I went to an ENT and she gave me steroid injection. It’s been 4 day now an I’m still have the echo noises. From the day I had an infection it now it’s been 7 weeks. Also, I had no pain during my infection. Please help.

Thank you,
Don

Answer:

Don,

Thank you for your question.   I wish I could give you an easy answer.  There are three different types of ear infections.  An infection in the outer ear- otitis externa, (ear canal),  the middle ear- otitis media (where the hearing bones are)  and the inner ear (where the hearing nerve is).   Each has a different presentation, a different set of symptoms, a different cause and different treatment.

An outer ear infection  (otitis externa) is an infection of the skin lined tube which makes up the ear canal.  This is often called swimmer’s ear.  There will frequently be pain when you pull on your ear lobe.  It is generally treated with ear drops and keeping the ear dry.

A middle ear infection (otitis media) is caused by a blocking of the tube that drains fluid from the space behind the ear drum.  This is common in children, or in adults after flying with a cold.  There is usually a hearing loss associated.  It is frequently, but not always painful, and  pulling on the ear does not cause discomfort.  It is usually treated with antibiotics and nasal sprays or decongestants to open up the eustachian tube that drains the middle ear.

An inner ear infection is usually caused by a viral infection of the nerve.  It can cause a sudden hearing loss, spinning vertigo, or both.  There usually is no pain  It is generally treated with steroids- either by mouth or now by injection into the ear. (trans-tympanic steroid injection)

I am not sure which type of infection you have-  or perhaps a  combination of more than one.  If you had a steroid injection, it sounds likely that this was an inner ear infection.  I would speak to your ENT doctor further so that you can get a better understanding of what has been going on and what your treatments and course should be.

Of course, if you’re in the area, we would be more than happy to see you here at the NY Otolaryngology Group and  help clear things up.  Bringing any hearing test you might have had would be quite helpful.

Robert L Pincus MD

NY Otolaryngology Group

If you have a question or concern, send us an email. A doctor from one of our centers will answer your question in confidence. We may post the Q & A on the blog if space permits to help others who may have the same question, but will not use your name.

What is Causing This Pain in My Ears?

Question:

Hello,

I have had this ear infection for more than a week. It causes me headaches, and the pain on both of my ears is unbearable. I was hoping you could help me by telling me the possible causes of this pain.

Answer:

I wish I could give  you the answer without knowing more about your problem.   Unfortunately, there are many different causes of ear pain, most can also cause facial pain as well.

An outer ear infection is a skin infection of the ear canal.  Often, there can be a discharge, but not always.  Typically, pulling hard on one’s ear lobe will be painful if that is the problem.  This ususally is treated with ear drops.

A middle ear infection is an infection in the space behind the ear drum.  That typically comes with nasal congestion, such as from a cold, or can occur with change in pressure- such as in air plane flights.  Usually, the hearing will be diminished, and you won’t be able to “pop” your ears- that is opening the eustachian tube that goes to the back of the nose from the ear.  It is usually (but now not always) treated with antibiotics and medications to open the nasal passages.

An inner ear infection is deep to these structures, commonly viral, and frequently presents with a hearing loss, with or without feeling dizzy.

There are also non infectious causes of ear and facial pain.

Commonly people can have persistent pain in the ear and face from the jaw joint.  That is the space just in front of the ear.  If you push there and open and close your jaw, people with such problems, (TMJ) will experience tenderness and often pain.  This pain can be quite severe (think of your back “going out”) and typically is worse with chewing.  That is treated with warm compresses, a soft diet, and an anti-inflammatory such as advil or aleve.

Finally, one can have what we call “referred ear pain”.   That is like when someone has a heart attack and they get left shoulder pain.  The nerves that go to the throat also go to the ear, so something like a bad sore throat, or rarely a tumor, can cause ear pain.

Unfortunately, it seems like the best idea would be to have your ear examined by someone who can help you find out which problem you have.

Robert Pincus MD

Co-director NY Sinus Center

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