EAR, EXAMINATION OF
E
In some cases, a doctor may deliberately
puncture the eardrum to drain pus from
the middle ear (see
myringotomy
) .
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Diagnosis is confirmed by examination
of the ear (see
ear, examination of
) .
Hear-
ing tests
may also be performed to assess
any hearing loss.
Analgesic drugs
(painkillers) may help
to relieve any pain and
antibiotic drugs
may be prescribed to treat or prevent
infection. Most perforations heal very
quickly, usually within a month. How -
ever, if the perforation has failed to heal
after about six months,
myringoplasty
(an operation to repair the eardrum)
may be required.
ear, examination of
The
ear
may be examined to investigate
the possible causes of
earache
,
discharge
from the ear (see
ear, discharge from
) ,
hearing loss, a feeling of fullness in the
ear, disturbed
balance
,
tinnitus
(noises
w ithin the ear), or swelling of lymph
nodes (see
glands, swollen
)
below or in
front of the ear.
HOW IT IS DONE
The doctor begins by examining the
pinna (the visible part of the outer ear)
for any evidence of swelling, tender-
ness, ulceration, or deformity. To view
the ear canal and eardrum, an
otoscope
(a viewing instrument for examining
the ear) may be used.
To obtain images of the middle and
inner ears,
X-rays
,
or
CT scanning
or
MRI
(techniques that produce cross-sec-
tional or three-dimensional images of
body structures), may be carried out.
Hearing and balance can be assessed by
means of
hearing tests
or
caloric tests
.
Electronystagmography
is a technique in
w hich balance is assessed by observing
the movements of the eye as water is
poured into the ear.
ear, foreign body in
Foreign bodies can easily enter the ear
canal. Children often insert small objects,
such as peas or stones, into their ears,
and insects may crawl or fly in.
If people try to remove objects from
the ear themselves, they may push the
items further into the ear canal and risk
damaging the eardrum. Foreign bodies
in the ear must always be removed by
doctors. This can be done by syringing
(see
syringing of ears
) or by using fine-
toothed
forceps
.
Insects can sometimes
be floated out using warmed olive oil
or lukewarm water.
ear, nose, and throat surgery
See
otorhinolaryngology.
ear piercing
Making a hole in the earlobe or another,
usually cartilaginous, part of the exter-
nal ear to accommodate an earring. Ear
piercings are best cleaned twice a day
with salt water. Earlobe piercing takes
about 4 weeks to heal; cartilage piercing
may take 8-12 weeks.
ears, pinning back of
See
otoplasty
.
earwax
A
yellow
or
brown
secretion,
also
called cerumen, produced by glands in
the outer ear canal. In most people,
wax is produced in small amounts,
comes out on its own, and causes no
problems. However, some people pro-
duce so much wax that it regularly
obstructs the canal. Excess earwax may
produce a sensation of fullness in the
ear and, if the canal is blocked com-
pletely, partial
deafness.
These symp-
toms are worsened if water enters the
ear and makes the wax swell. Pro-
longed blockage may irritate the skin
of the ear canal.
TREATMENT
Wax that causes blockage or irritation
may come out after being softened with
warmed olive oil or almond oil. Other-
wise, the wax should first be softened
and then removed by a doctor or nurse
(see
syringing of the ears).
eating disorders
Illnesses that are characterized by obses-
sions with weight and body image.
Eating disorders are most common in
young adolescent females, but they can
also affect males.
In the eating disorder
anorexia nervosa,
patients, despite being painfully thin,
perceive themselves as fat and starve
themselves. Binge-eating followed by self-
induced vomiting is one of the main
features of
bulimia,
although, in this dis-
order, weight may be normal. The two
conditions sometimes occur together. In
morbid
obesity,
there is a constant desire
to eat large quantities of food.
Ebola fever
A dangerous and highly contagious viral
infection that causes severe haemorrhag-
ing (see
bleeding)
from the skin and the
mucous membranes
(the thin, moist tis-
sue that lines body cavities). Ebola fever
occurs predominantly in Africa. There is
no specific treatment for the disease,
w hich is fatal in many cases.
eburnation
The conversion of
bone
into an ivorylike
mass. The
cartilage
that covers an articu-
lating bone surface wears away, exposing
the
underlying
bone
tissue,
w hich
becomes increasingly dense and worn.
Eburnation is a feature of
osteoarthritis
.
EB virus
See
Epstein-Barr virus
.
ecchymosis
The medical term for a
bruise
that is vis-
ible through the skin.
eccrine gland
A type of
sweat gland
.
ECG
The abbreviation for electrocardiogra-
phy, a method of recording the electrical
activity of the
heart
muscle. An ECG is
useful for diagnosing heart disorders,
many of w hich produce electrical pat-
terns that deviate from normal. Electrodes
connected to a recording machine are
placed on the patient’s chest, wrists, and
ankles. The machine displays the heart’s
electrical activity on a screen or as a trace.
(See also
ambulatory ECG; exercise ECG.
)
echinachea
A preparation of the plant genus E
chi
-
nacea
. Three species of echinacea are
used
in
herbal
medicine;
they
are
believed to boost the body’s
immune sys-
tem
and therefore increase its resistance
to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
echocardiography
A method of obtaining an image of
the structure and movements of the
heart
using
ultrasound
(inaudible, high-
frequency sound waves).
WHY IT IS DONE
Echocardiography is a diagnostic tech-
nique that is used to detect structural,
and some functional, abnormalities of
the heart wall, heart chambers,
heart
valves
,
and large
coronary arteries
.
The procedure is also used to diag-
nose congenital heart disease (see
heart
disease, congenital
) ,
cardiomyopathy
(heart
muscle disorders),
aneurysms
(balloon-
ing of the heart or blood vessel walls),
pericarditis
(inflammation of the mem-
brane that surrounds the heart), and
blood clots in the heart.
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