Information for Patients
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.
Some eye problems are minor and don't last long. But some can lead to a permanent loss of vision.
Common eye problems include
- Refractive errors
- Cataracts - clouded lenses
- Optic nerve disorders, including glaucoma
- Retinal disorders - problems with the nerve layer at the back of the eye
- Macular degeneration - a disease that destroys sharp, central vision
- Diabetic eye problems
- Conjunctivitis - an infection also known as pinkeye
Your best defense is to have regular checkups, because eye diseases do not always have symptoms. Early detection and treatment could prevent vision loss. See an eye care professional right away if you have a sudden change in vision, if everything looks dim, or if you see flashes of light. Other symptoms that need quick attention are pain, double vision, fluid coming from the eye, and inflammation.
NIH: National Eye Institute
Screenings are tests that look for diseases before you have symptoms. Screening tests can find diseases early, when they're easier to treat. You can get some screenings in your doctor's office. Others need special equipment, so you may need to go to a different office or clinic.
Some conditions that doctors commonly screen for include
- Breast cancer and cervical cancer in women
- Colorectal cancer
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Overweight and obesity
- Prostate cancer in men
Which tests you need depends on your age, your sex, your family history, and whether you have risk factors for certain diseases. After a screening test, ask when you will get the results and whom to talk to about them.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality