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Types of Human Ear Diseases

by
author image Leah DiPlacido, Ph.D.
Leah DiPlacido, a medical writer with more than nine years of biomedical writing experience, received her doctorate in immunology from Yale University. Her work is published in "Journal of Immunology," "Arthritis and Rheumatism" and "Journal of Experimental Medicine." She writes about disease for doctors, scientists and the general public.
Types of Human Ear Diseases
The human ear is susceptible to many different types of diseases. Photo Credit ear image by Connfetti from <a href="http://www.fotolia.com">Fotolia.com</a>

The ears not only provide us with the ability to hear, but also aid in balance, especially while moving. Thus, ear diseases can leaves us with difficulties hearing, pain, along with extreme dizziness that can lead to nausea. The ear has many different parts, including the ear canal, the middle ear and the inner ear, where nerves deliver sound signals and feelings associated with balance to the brain. All of these parts are susceptible to trauma and infection, which can result in minor or severe damage to the ears.

Swimmer's Ear

Swimmer's ear is an infection of the ear canal, which is the tube that connects the inner ear to the pinna, the outer portion of the ear that sits at the side of the head. The Mayo Clinic reports at their website MayoClinic.com, that bacterial infection of the skin lining the ear canal usually proves responsible for causing swimmer's ear. Though swimming itself does not cause the infection, excess water in the ears can make the ear canal susceptible to infection. Over exuberant cleaning of the ear canal with a Q-tip can also cause damage making the ear susceptible to infection.

Meniere's Disease

Meniere's disease is an ear disorder that affects the inner ear, according to the online medical library Merck Manuals. The disease is characterized by defective functioning of the inner ear resulting from buildup of fluid, which causes the pressure in the inner ear to become elevated and can affect hearing. Other symptoms of this ear disease include vertigo and nausea, due to disruption of balance and detection of movement. Though the exact cause remains unknown, Merck Manuals states that autoimmune disorders, head or ear trauma, allergies and even syphilis are all potential causes.

Vestibular Neuritis

When the vestibular nerve, located in the inner ear, becomes swollen and inflamed, the result is vestibular neruritis. The symptoms of this type of ear disease have similarities to Meniere's disease and include vertigo, that can appear quite suddenly and the resulting nausea, according to the University of Michigan Health System, UMHS. The cause of vestibular neuritis is somewhat controversial. Some researchers, according to UMHS, believe the cause usually results because of a viral infection. However, over half the people who have vestibular neuritis have no cold or flu symptoms.

Herpes Zoster Otitis

The vericella-zoster virus, which proves responsible for chicken pox, causes this ear disease. Herpes zoster otitis occurs when the viral infection spreads to the facial nerves, and into the nerves of the inner ear. The symptoms of this ear disease, according to the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, include intense ear pain, a rash around the ear and face and even paralysis of the facial nerves. The affected person may hear abnormal sounds and/or experience difficulty hearing, vertigo and nausea.

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