Problems with your ears? We’ve got you covered.

04 September 2019

We recently discussed a variety of ear problems with Mr Nicholas Clifton, ENT Consultant. If you’re struggling with hearing loss, tinnitus, ear infections or dizziness then be sure to read on and learn more about how Spire Harpenden Hospital and Mr Clifton can help you.  

Hearing and deafness

Hearing loss is common with approximately 16% of adults having a hearing loss. There are different types of deafness. Some are caused by problems with the cochlear or the nerve of hearing, others are caused by middle ear fluid (glue ear), problems with the ear drum or the tiny hearing bones in the middle ear. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and can include surgery or a hearing aid.


Tinnitus is a word used to describe a condition where patients hear noises in their ears or in their head.

Most people, if they are seated in a completely quiet soundproofed room, will hear a type of rushing or hissing sound. Usually this sound is masked by everyday environmental noise. It is when this noise becomes intrusive that it can become irritating and is known as ‘tinnitus'. The more anxious the sufferer gets the worse the tinnitus becomes.

Sometimes tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss and by using a hearing aid the tinnitus can be diminished. This is because background noise is amplified by the hearing aid, which “masks” the annoying sound. If the tinnitus is particularly intrusive seeing a tinnitus therapist can be helpful.  


There are lots of causes of dizziness, which may have nothing to do with the balance organ in the ear. Fainting, heart, thyroid, eye, brain and nerve disorders can all make you feel dizzy.

One type of dizziness is “vertigo” which is the sensation of the room moving or spinning and is linked to problems with the inner ear. There are different types of inner ear dizziness that all require different treatment. Most causes become clear by answering lots of specific questions and performing a balance assessment in clinic.

Ear infections

Ear infections are common and can occur in the ear canal (otitis externa) or behind the eardrum in the middle ear (otitis media). Symptoms include itch, pain, discharge and hearing loss.  

Otitis externa is more common in people who have eczema and it is often itchy before the ear becomes painful and blocked. Swimming or using cotton buds can precipitate it. Treatment is eardrops, but in more severe cases suctioning the debris from the ear and antibiotics are necessary.

Otitis media usually occurs after a cold. The eardrum sometimes bursts and liquid discharges from the ear. The hole usually closes, but if it does not, then it can act as a “porthole” for further infections. An operation to close the hole is an option.

Prevention is often better than cure and if you suffer with frequent ear infections it is a good idea to keep your ears dry and to use earplugs.

If you’re suffering with any of the above, don’t suffer in silence. We have a fantastic team at Spire Harpenden Hospital who are on hand to look after you. Book in to see Mr Clifton today by calling 01582 788 412.

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