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Ms. Ears Questions and Answers

Questions about Ear Blockages, Ear Wax and Ear Infections from real people and answered by real audiologists

QUESTION: I have been diagnosed with swimmer's ear that was likely contracted swimming in polluted water in Mexico. The doctor has put me on 250mg of ciprofloxacin. I have been taking this medication for 6 days and am not having any relief. How long does swimmers ear last? Is it possible to have permanent damage? Should I see a specialist?

ANSWER: Sorry to read of your difficulties with swimmers ear as it can be very uncomfortable. Ear infections (swimmers ear) will vary in severity and duration. Your doctor is the best person to assess your particular problem and the correct treatment. Most ear infections do not cause permanent damage as long as they are treated in a timely fashion. If you are still having difficulty after you finish the treatment your doctor has prescribed, talk about a referral to a specialist. Thank you for your question. Good luck. Sincerely, Ms. Ears.

QUESTION: My ears feel blocked from the inside. What is the best way for me to clear them?

ANSWER: Ears can be blocked in a number of different ways. The external ear canal can be blocked with earwax or a small foreign object. Earwax is normal in the ear canal but sometimes accumulates and completely blocks the canal. Foreign objects should never be put into the ear canal. These types of blocks can cause hearing difficulty and discomfort, and must be removed. Q-tips should never be used to remove earwax from your ear canal. Another type of blockage in the ear can occur in the middle ear, which is most often caused by an ear infection and fluid. In both cases it is important to see your doctor who will diagnose the problem and prescribe the correct treatment. Thank you for your question, and good luck. Sincerely, Ms. Ears.

QUESTION: Is all earwax the same?

ANSWER: Not all earwax is the same.  It can come in gray, yellow, pumpkin-colored or brown and it can be moist or dry!  Another name for earwax is cerumen.

QUESTION: How do you treat water in the ear after swimming? It often bothers me for hours after I leave the water.

ANSWER: Water can be a problem in many peoples' ears. If drying your ears after swimming does not provide enough relief, you might want to consider swim plugs. These are custom made plugs just for your ears that would keep the water out. Many people use them and find them comfortable and effective for keeping ears dry. Contact your local hearing health care provider, as these should be custom fit. Sincerely, Ms. Ears.

QUESTION: Is there ANYTHING that can be done to alleviate the constant pressure in my bad ear? I am experiencing hearing loss and a feeling that I should be able to clear the passage - but can't. I was recently at the dentist, and while the drill had no effect on the good ear, the bad ear responded vividly to the sound. I don't understand.

ANSWER: Anytime a person has pressure in his ear and the ear is more sensitive to sound that is conducted through bone (like a dentist drill), I recommend that he see his doctor. Most often pressure in the ear is associated with problems in the middle ear, which a doctor (ENT) can treat. My recommendation is "do not pass go" and proceed directly to your local ENT and see what he/she can do. Sincerely, Ms. Ears.

QUESTION: My ears won't stop ringing. I just got over an ear infection. What can I do to stop it?

ANSWER: Ringing in your ears, also called Tinnitus, can be distressing. Most often a person with tinnitus also has a hearing loss, but not always. There are a number of causes of tinnitus including: hearing loss, allergies, medications, physical damage to the ear and other medical problems. A person can have ringing after an ear infection, though it should disappear as all the symptoms clear up. If the ringing doesn't go away within 30 days, go back to your doctor. Sincerely, Ms Ears.

QUESTION: I have chronic acute psueodomonas. I got this condition from jet skiing on the many lakes and rivers, where I live. The doctors and ear specialists, tell me this condition is a life long thing. Is this correct?

ANSWER: Pseudomonas is a genus of small, motile, gram-negative bacilli. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a species that is sometimes pathogenic for humans that can affect the external ear (otitis externa). In simpler words...your ear canal hurts. In all the cases I am familiar with, this is a life-long condition. Sincerely, Ms. Ears.

QUESTION: My sister's doctor told her she has a retracting eardrum. What does this mean?

ANSWER: When an eardrum is retracted or is in a retracting position, it has shifted or sucked into the middle ear. This can happen for a number of reasons including: an ear infection, or pressure change (flying or driving into the mountains). Your sister's doctor should investigate why the ear is in this condition and recommend corrective action. In most cases this is not a permanent condition and will not cause permanent hearing loss. Sincerely, Ms. Ears.

QUESTION: My 5 year old had tubes placed in her eardrums when she was 2 because of recurring ear infections. Her recent hearing test indicates negative pressure in one ear. What are typical treatments for this? More tubes?

ANSWER: Many small children today have tubes placed in their ears because of recurring ear infections. Most tubes are designed to fall out after a period of time (6 months to 2 years). If the child still has recurring ear infections, often they will have another set of tubes placed in their ears. It is very important at this age, while language is developing, that children have good hearing. Check with your doctor again and he/she will help with the choices. Sincerely, Ms. Ears.

QUESTION: For the last 3 weeks I've had ear infections in both ears, with a mild temperature. I visited a convenient care doctor (not my regular physician) and he prescribed 500 ml. trymox., three times daily. It hasn't helped. I've also developed a loud high-pitched ringing in my ears. This has left me with a substantial hearing loss. What should I do? The stuffiness won't go away.

ANSWER: I would suggest that you either go to your regular physician or an ENT physician as soon as possible. Ear infections are not fun (as I'm sure you know). They can be very painful. Often when you have an ear infection you will develop fluid in your middle ears. This will cause the stuffiness and hearing loss you describe. Your doctor (or the ENT) should follow through until the infections are all cleared up and your hearing returns. Sincerely, Ms. Ears.

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Here are some other great questions that real people have asked Ms. Ears.

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