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What Are the Most Common Ear Diseases?

By Patti Kate
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Various types of ear diseases and conditions may afflict the ear, the most common of which is an infection of the middle ear. This is especially common in children, and may be caused by a virus or bacteria. The inner ear is most vulnerable to disease, and one condition known as Meniere's disease may cause increased pressure leading to hearing loss. The vestibular nerve can become inflamed due to an inner ear infection, and this may cause a disease known as vestibular neruritis. Deafness or loss of hearing is an ear disease that may be congenital or acquired.

Some individuals who have contracted the virus that causes chicken pox may also develop infection of the ear. This occurs when the virus spreads to the inner ear, causing damage to the nerves. Herpes Zoster Otitis is one of the diseases that may cause several symptoms, including fever, ear pain and dizziness. Hearing loss may also be a common symptom of this disease.

Autoimmune ear diseases may cause significant hearing loss. One such disease is known as autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED). This occurs when the body's immune cells mistake the nerves of the inner ear for foreign invaders and attack them. An ear specialist known as an otolaryngologist, often referred to as an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT), can diagnose this disease and prescribe treatment.

One of the most common types of ear diseases is known as swimmer's ear. This is generally caused by a fungal infection. This condition is called swimmer's ear because many individuals develop this infection by frequent swimming. Often, this condition may be treated with over-the-counter remedies, such as a solution of boric acid and ethyl alcohol. An eyedropper generally works well in administering the solution into the ear.

Ear mites have been known to cause disease by invading the ear canal. The ear canal will slough dead skin cells regularly, which ear mites may thrive on. This condition is seen most commonly in dogs and cats, although in extremely rare cases humans may become afflicted by this parasite.

Other types of ear diseases may include polyps inside the ear canal or a condition known as cauliflower ear. Cauliflower ear causes deformity of the outer ear and typically occurs after being struck in the ear. Damage to the ear cartilage may cause the outer ear to develop a crumpled or bumpy appearance. When polyps develop in the ear canal, recurrent ear infections or allergies may be the cause.

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Discussion Comments
By KoiwiGal — On Jul 04, 2013

Cauliflower ears are really bad looking. My sister has decided my nephew is basically never going to play rugby, because she's seen too many players with this condition.

Personally, I think that a better reason is that, if you've been knocked around enough to get cauliflower ears, you've probably got some brain damage as well. Ear problems are the least of your worries.

By Fa5t3r — On Jul 04, 2013

@bythewell - I never realized how terrible they could be until a friend of mine developed one while we were traveling overseas. She thought she could beat it without seeing a doctor and we were in a developing country, so it got a lot worse than it might have if we were at home.

She basically got to the point where she was vomiting and had a fever and I was really scared she was going to die. They decided to fly her to another country in order to treat it and they had to completely sedate her because the pressure of flying on her ears was like torture. I can't even imagine it, seeing as I feel like it's bad enough when I've just got a cold and I'm flying, let alone in her condition.

After a few rounds of strong antibiotics she was fine, but it was touch and go for a moment there. Don't mess around with your ears, they can definitely get you into serious trouble if you don't treat them right.

By bythewell — On Jul 04, 2013

Something a lot of people don't realize is that cleaning your ears with a cotton bud is just asking for an infection. I don't even think the people who make them recommend that you use them for this purpose now.

Basically, you'll just be pushing the wax and other debris deeper into the ear, rather than scooping it back out and the deeper it goes, the more chance that it can infect your inner ear.

You're much better off using proper ear drops. Ear disorders are really terrible and you don't want to risk getting one.

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