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About Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Ear Disorders
Your ear has three main parts: outer, middle and inner. You use all of them in hearing. Sound waves come in through your outer ear. They reach your middle ear, where they make your eardrum vibrate. The vibrations are transmitted through three tiny bones, called ossicles, in your middle ear. The vibrations travel to your inner ear, a snail-shaped organ. The inner ear makes the nerve impulses that are sent to the brain. Your brain recognizes them as sounds. The inner ear also controls balance.

A variety of conditions may affect your hearing or balance:
  • Ear infections are the most common illness in infants and young children.
  • Tinnitus, a roaring in your ears, can be the result of loud noises, medicines or a variety of other causes.
  • Meniere's disease may be the result of fluid problems in your inner ear; its symptoms include tinnitus and dizziness.
  • Ear barotrauma is an injury to your ear because of changes in barometric (air) or water pressure.
Some ear disorders can result in hearing disorders and deafness.

Nose Injuries and Disorders
Your nose is important to your health. It filters the air you breathe, removing dust, germs, and irritants. It warms and moistens the air to keep your lungs and tubes that lead to them from drying out. Your nose also contains the nerve cells that help your sense of smell. When there is a problem with your nose, your whole body can suffer. For example, the stuffy nose of the common cold can make it hard for you to breathe, sleep, or get comfortable.

Many problems besides the common cold can affect the nose. They include
  • Deviated septum - a shifting of the wall that divides the nasal cavity into halves
  • Nasal polyps - soft growths that develop on the lining of your nose or sinuses
  • Nosebleeds
  • Rhinitis - inflammation of the nose and sinuses sometimes caused by allergies. The main symptom is a runny nose.
  • Nasal fractures, also known as a broken nose
Throat Disorders
Your throat is a tube that carries food to your esophagus and air to your windpipe and larynx. The technical name for throat is pharynx.

Throat problems are common. You've probably had a sore throat. The cause is usually a viral infection, but other causes include allergies, infection with strep bacteria or the upward movement of stomach acids into the esophagus, called gastric reflux.

Other problems that affect the throat include
  • Tonsillitis - an infection in the tonsils
  • Pharyngitis - inflammation of the pharynx
  • Cancers
Most throat problems are minor and go away on their own. Treatments, when needed, depend on the problem.
Ohio State is recognized by U.S.News & World Report as one of the nation's best hospitals for care of the ear, nose and throat. Schedule an appointment with Ohio State's experts in otolaryngology. Call 614-366-3687(ENTS).