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Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

Inner Ear Problems

The inner ear is the portion of the ear hidden from view and connects the outer and middle ear to the brain. It serves two important purposes: It is part of the ear as the main auditory organ and is part of the system that provides us with a sense of balance.

The inner ear is made up of a series of fluid-filled passages. The outer ear receives vibrations coming from its surroundings, but it is the inner ear that makes sense out of these oscillations in the air by interpreting them as nerve impulses that it sends to the brain. The brain then recognizes the impulses as sounds.

The inner ear is comprised of two main parts. The first is the cochlea, snail shell-shaped part responsible for hearing. The second is the vestibular system, which controls our sense of balance.

The vestibular system, which also contributes to our sense of spatial orientation, provides the dominant input about movement and equilibrioception. Along with the cochlea, it constitutes the “labyrinth” of the inner ear. The vestibular system also sends signals primarily to the neural structures that control our eye movements and to the muscles that keep us upright. In simple terms, the vestibular system it is our on-board “gyroscope” that keeps us upright.

What are some inner ear problems?

Although the inner ear is for the most part not exposed to elements as are the other parts of the ear, a variety of conditions can still affect it and, consequently, hearing or balance or both.

Among the most common conditions that afflict infants and young children are ear infections. But while they are commonly found in the young, inner ear or vestibular disorders can strike anyone.

Tinnitus. This condition is characterized by perceived roaring sounds. It can be the result of loud noises, medicines or a variety of other causes.

Ménière's disease. This condition is caused by fluid problems in the inner ear; its symptoms include tinnitus and dizziness.

Other conditions associated with inner ear disorders include:

  • Perilymph fistula
  • Cervical vertigo
  • Ototoxicity
  • Mal de débarquement
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Migraine-associated vertigo
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
  • Eustachian tube dysfunction
  • Autoimmune inner ear disorder

Since the vestibular system interacts the nervous system, inner ear disorders may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as blurred vision, muscle aches, headaches and memory loss.

Inner ear infections are also called otitis interna or labyrinthitis. These are generally caused by infection in other parts of the body parts such as sinus or throat infection. Inner ear infections are viral infections and may accompany other illnesses such as influenza, mumps and measles.

For innovative, state-of-the art facial plastic and ENT surgical care, come to SoCal ENT. To schedule your one-on-one consultation with Dr. Namazie, please call us at 818.986.5500, or you can use our online Request an Appointment form.

 

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