“For a man to walk properly, his ears must function properly,” says ENT specialist Dr. Srinivas Kishore Sistla of Star Hospitals. In this interview Dr. Srinivas speaks on the crucial role ears play and how one can stay away from contracting ear diseases.


Ear problems are usually seen as an everyday, regular issue. How serious are ear conditions?

Ear plays two vital functions - one is that of hearing, the other is that of maintaining balance. Hearing clearly is important, just as being able to stand erect and walk properly. We are the only living creature on this planet that walks on two legs. For the human body to stand straight, the ear must function well. Else, one may suffer from a condition termed as vertigo wherein one can barely stand. One feels dizzy all the time. Explain how important our ears are to us.


Why do ear problems occur?

Ear is a complex organ. What we see is the outer part of the edge. This part collects sound that one needs to listen to and channelizes it to the outer ear. The outer ear extends from the hole to the ear drums. The middle ear amplifies or dampens the sound that is heard. Once the sound goes into the inner ear (which maintains the balance of the human body), it gets converted into electrical signals. That is how the brain understands the message. This is the structure of the ear in a nutshell. If there is any problem in any structure of the ear - outer, middle, or inner - it leads to an ear problem.


Coming to the various age groups, there is a different reason for each one. Even the babies have ear diseases. In fact, it is the most complex in the babies, because the babies can’t communicate their pain. Babies have very narrow ear canals. Over enthusiastic mothers put earbuds in their ears to clean them, but end up pushing the wax deep down into the ear canals, that leads to problems.


Amongst school going kids, cold could be a trigger. The skin lining of the ear and nose are the same. If a child has cold and blows his nose, there are chances that the thick secretion may enter the ear and cause glue ear. There is no pain in such a condition. However, the child stops hearing clearly. And often, he may be unaware of it.


In the middle age group, ear infections are common. These infections arise from bacteria or sometimes from the fact that the ear is unable to clean itself.


Coming to the senior citizens- those above 60 - one suffers from hearing loss. It is primarily caused by the weakening of the nerves. The nerves get weak because of hypertension or blood pressure. If one suffers from uncontrolled BP or hypertension at a younger age, loss of hearing could happen even then.


Do seasons also affect our ears?

Yes, they do. Wax gets accumulated in the ears of kids during the summers as their ear canals are very narrow. During the winters, cold is common among everybody. Sneezing or blowing one’s nose may cause the phlegm to enter one’s ears.


What is the extreme case of an ear problem?

The extreme cases are either loss of balance or loss of hearing. But the worst experience is ear pain. Ear is an extremely sensitive organ. Ear problems can be excruciatingly painful.


How to keep ear problems at bay?

Firstly, one must avoid listening to loud sounds. It can trigger a lot of ear issues. Secondly, one must keep conversations on cell phones to a minimum. Cell phones may be great concept in bringing people together, but long chats on them can cause damage to the ears. Thirdly, stop using ear buds or shoving things into ears. People use ear buds thinking they are cleaning the ear. But remember that the ear is a self-cleansing organ. Ear-buds are not required. The eardrums are very close to that area, it may get ruptured. That in turn will give rise to several problems. One must not put any kitchen ingredients like coconut oil or sarson ka tel, or even garlic or match sticks, into the ear.


What are the latest technological advancements in treating ear diseases?

With the advancement in technology, the days of cuts and scars are gone. Everything is now minimally invasive. Now, we follow endoscopic ear surgery that is a less invasive surgery. 


For Appointment : Dr. Srinivas Kishore Sistla