Ear blockage can be due to conditions of the outer, middle or inner ears. Obstructions in the external canal can be caused by impacted wax or swelling of the skin lining due to infection (otitis externa). Middle ear infections (otitis media) with fluid (effusion) cause blockage and hearing loss. Eustachian tube blockage (dysfunction) commonly occurs with an upper respiratory tract infection or sudden changes of the environmental pressure, such as landing in an aeroplane or scuba diving. Stress related jaw spasms (Temporomandibular joint -TMJ dysfunction) can also result in tension of the Eustachian Tube muscles. Conditions with an increase in the inner ear fluid pressure, such as Meniere’s disease and acoustic neuroma, cause ear blockage which may resemble the features of Eustachian tube dysfunction.
Because of the wide spectrum of possible causes an extensive range of audiological investigations may be necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.
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Dr Gerald Brookes is regularly consulted by the media for his expertise. He has been interviewed by the Daily Mail, featured on Channel 4's Embarassing Bodies, looked after The X-Factor contestants and recently, appeared on BBC Radio 2 with Chris Evans.
Media: Channel 4
Adele was experiencing dizziness and balance problems so severe that she could barely function. In desperation, after consulting her GP to no avail, she got in touch with Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies team. The show then contacted Dr Gerald Brookes, who was able to diagnose her rare condition as Basilar Migraine.
Catherine Eade was having dizzy spells and balance problems. When inexplicably she started suffering memory loss too, she consulted Dr Gerald Brookes at The Harley Street ENT Clinic who correctly diagnosed her problem as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
The Harley Street ENT Clinic looked after The X-Factor TV show contestants for many seasons. At the end of the 2010 season, Dr Gerald Brookes was interviewed by Nicky Broyd of Boots WebMD on the perils of high pressure performing.