INJURIES RELATED TO EARS
OUTER EAR INJURIES
The auricle or pinna can be easily damaged because of its prominence and its unique features. The pinna is comprised of a cartilage framework covered by skin. Skin is attached tightly to the front of the ear and loosely to the backside. The blood supply of the cartilage comes entirely from a thin membrane called perichondrium attached to it. If the ear is damaged, fluid or blood may collect under the perichondrium and deprive the cartilage of nutrients causing a deformity. This type of deformity is called a cauliflower ear because the cartilage looks crumpled and becomes firm. This type of injury is most often seen in wrestlers and after blunt trauma to the ear.
The lobule of the ear (ear lobe) does not have cartilage and there are many normal variations in its shape. Common conditions include infections or lacerations related to traumatic removal of ear rings. Other causes for injury are common and include lacerations, burns, bites, frostbite, and cancers.
EAR CANAL INJURIES
Ear canal injuries are common because the skin within the ear canal is thin and fragile. The outer aspect of the ear canal has thick skin attached to cartilage and the area is mobile. The cerumen producing glands are in this region as well as hair follicles. The inner aspect has thin skin which is very sensitive and tightly attached to underlying bone. The most common cause of injury relates to objects placed into the ear while cleaning wax such a Q-tips and paper clips. Other causes of injury include ear candles and water exposure.
EARDRUM and MIDDLE EAR INJURIES
Injuries of the eardrum are most often caused by foreign bodies placed into the ear or from rapid pressure changes. It is best to not place anything into the ear canal. While water skiing or wake boarding, protection of the ears with plugs may reduce the chance of an injury. Skull fractures can also damage the middle ear and injure the ear bones (ossicles). Balance function may also be impaired, and in some cases this results in a permanent disability.
INNER EAR INJURIES
Inner ear injuries are usually caused by loud sound levels or chronic exposure to loud noise such as from gunfire, explosions, music, automotive and factory settings, or factories. Serious head injuries can also cause serious damage to the ear. Various drugs can also damage the ear and cause temporary or permanent damage.