Disorders of the Ear

Disorders of the Ear


This lesson will examine the cause and effect of various disorders of the ear.

See More
Human Biology

No bones about it.
Our Human Biology course is only $329.

Sophia's online courses not only save you money, but credits are also eligible for transfer to over 2,000 colleges and universities.*


Source: Video and Images Created by Amanda Soderlind

Video Transcription

Download PDF

Welcome to this lesson today on disorders of the ear. Today we are going to be discussing a few different common disorders that involve the ear. So these different disorders of the ear can have different possible causes. Either illness or injury are generally the most common causes for many of these disorders. So we're going to take a look at the different types of disorders, characteristics of each of these disorders, and causes of the disorders.

So the first one we're going to look at is otitis media. Oops. This should say media. OK. Otitis media is the first disorder here. So basically, a characteristic of otitis media is inflammation of the inner ear. So the inner ear becomes inflamed. So if you've ever heard of somebody having just a common ear infection, generally this is what we're referring to, otitis media.

And the cause of this disorder is usually the spreading of a cold. So the cold will spread up to the ear and then tubes within the ears that are responsible for helping to clear out bacteria don't work properly. And so you end up with this inflammation or this ear infection in the ear.

And kids are actually more susceptible because the tubes in their ears are shorter. So the fluids-- what will happen is that the fluids will build up between the tympanic membrane, or the eardrum, and the inner ear. And then that's what causes that inflammation and that pain associated with an ear infection.

Tinnitus is our next disorder we're going to discuss today. And tinnitus is characterized by a ringing or a buzzing in the ear. So generally, this is not a major health threat. It's just basically more annoying than anything else. And it's generally caused by an ear infection but can be also brought on if you take too much aspirin as well.

Deafness is the next disorder here. And deafness is the partial to complete inability to hear. So some people who are considered deaf can still hear a little bit. They just have partial ability to hear. But some people who are deaf cannot hear at all. So there's kind of this range that a person can be in when they're considered deaf, depending on if they're partially deaf or completely deaf.

And causes of deafness can be genetic. So somebody could be born deaf. Generally, our hearing starts to decline as we age. So aging can be a cause of deafness. Certain illnesses can lead to deafness. Or an injury or a blow to the head can sometimes damage the ear and lead to deafness as well. So there are various different causes associated with deafness.

Vertigo is characterized when the surroundings look like they're spinning. And this is generally caused by a viral infection or an injury that affects your vestibular apparatus. So the vestibular apparatus is an organ within the inner ear that plays a role in balance and equilibrium. So if there is some sort of injury or illness that affects the vestibular apparatus, your balance and equilibrium is going to be off. So it causes your surroundings to appear like they're spinning. So that's vertigo.

And motion sickness is the last one we're going to discuss today, characterized by dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to movement or motion. So at some point in our lives, we've probably all experienced some form of motion sickness, whether you've been on a plane or on a boat in choppy water or in a car on a windy road. Many of us have probably experienced motion sickness at one point or another.

And this is caused by the overstimulation of hair cells in the ear which disrupt balance. So hair cells within the ear are mechanoreceptors that help play a role in monitoring the head's position in space. So if those are overstimulated, it can lead to this feeling of dizziness or nausea or sensitivity to movement or motion. So this lesson has been an overview on various disorders of the ear, their characteristics and causes.

  • Otis Media

    A disorder of the ear often caused by the spreading of a cold that produces inflammation of the inner ear.

  • Tinnitus

    A disorder of the ear characterized by buzzing or ringing in the ear often caused by an ear infection.

  • Deafness

    A disorder of the ear that results in the inability to properly hear.

  • Vertigo

    A disorder in which an infection or injury to the ear disrupts proper functioning of the vestibular apparatus.

  • Motion Sickness

    A disorder in which hair cells in the ear’s organs of equilibrium and balance are over-stimulated causing feelings of dizziness and nausea.