Cchi mini-Glossary Project Glossary #2, Subject: ent ear Language: English

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CCHI Mini-Glossary Project Glossary #2, Subject: ENT - Ear Language: English



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ENT (Ear Nose Throat)

Syn. Otorhinolaryngology

A medical specialty that treats ear, nose, and throat problems.

ENT doctor

Syn. Otolaryngologist

A physician who specializes in the disorders of the ear, nose, throat.


The sense organ for hearing and balance.


The soft, fleshy, pendulous lower part of the external ear.

External ear

Syn. Outer ear

The outer portion of the ear, extending from the visible organ on the head to the ear drum.

Ear canal

The tube-like passage through which sound enters the ear.

Ear drum Syn. tympanic membrane

A thin membrane that separates the external ear from the middle ear. Its function is to transmit sound from the air to the bones inside the middle ear. Rupture or perforation of the eardrum can lead to hearing loss.

Middle ear

The middle ear is the space behind the eardrum.

Inner ear

The internal portion of the ear inside the skull involved in hearing and balance.

Vestibular system

The vestibular system detects motion of the head in space and in turn generates reflexes that help us maintain balance. It also provides us with our subjective sense of movement and orientation in space.

Eustachian tube

The tube that connects the middle ear with the back of the nose. Normally this tube lets fluid drain out of the middle ear.

Ear wax

A wax-like secretion from glands in the ear canal.


A gradual accumulation or increase of something negative and typically leading to a problem.


A brand of cotton-tipped swab used especially for cleansing a small area or for applying medications.

Ear discharge

Syn. Otorrhea

Fluid that drains from the ear canal.


Instrument for examining the ear canal.


Sensation of pain centered in the ear canal.

Swimmer’s ear

Syn. Otitis externa

A condition that occurs when water is trapped in the ear canal, leading to an infection in the outer ear and ear canal.

Otitis media with effusion

A condition which occurs when there is fluid (effusion) in the middle ear. Fluid in the middle ear usually doesn't bother children. It almost always goes away on its own in a few weeks to a few months. So, this kind of ear problem doesn't usually need to be treated with antibiotics, unless the fluid doesn't go away.

Ruptured eardrum

Syn. Perforated eardrum

A condition resulting in an opening or hole in the eardrum. Damage to the eardrum may harm hearing.

Mastoid bone

A large bone at the base of the skull behind the ear, containing air spaces that connect with the middle ear cavity.


An infection of the bone behind the ear. It is usually caused by a middle ear infection (acute otitis media). The infection may spread from the ear to the mastoid bone of the skull. The mastoid bone fills with infected materials and its honeycomb-like structure may deteriorate.

Ear barotrauma

Medical problems that arise from the pressure differences between ears and the environment (water, air) and is a particular concern for scuba divers. It may also happen during an airplane flight.

External ear squeeze

A type of barotrauma, which occurs when your ear canal is blocked by something such as earwax. As the water pressure increases while you descend, the air pocket between the obstruction and the eardrum shrinks. This can damage the tissue in the ear canal, usually your eardrum.

Middle ear squeeze

A type of barotrauma, which occurs when you cannot equalize the pressure in your middle ear.

Vestibular disorder

A dysfunction of the balance organs of the inner ear


A sensation of lightheadedness, faintness, or unsteadiness. It can be a primary sign of a vestibular disorder in addition to a broad array of cardiovascular, neurological, metabolic, vision, and psychological problems.


A rotational, spinning sensation. An extreme feeling of the surrounding area spinning or moving.


A feeling of unsteadiness, imbalance, or loss of equilibrium that is often accompanied by spatial disorientation.


An ear disorder that involves irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the inner ear.

Meniere's disease

An inner ear disorder that affects balance and hearing.

Ringing in the Ears (colloq.)

Syn. Tinnitus

"Hearing" noises in your ears when there is no outside source of the sounds. The noises you hear can be soft or loud. They may sound like ringing, blowing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, humming, whistling, or sizzling.

Acoustic neuroma

A noncancerous growth or tumor on the auditory nerve near the inner ear. The auditory nerve carries sound impulses from the ear to the brain. An acoustic neuroma grows slowly and can cause hearing loss in the affected ear. Although the growth is not cancerous, it can press on other nerves or brain tissues as it grows.

To pull on the ear

Syn. To tug at the ear

To hold onto the ear and move it towards yourself or down.

A stuffy or plugged-up feeling in the ear

A feeling in the ear as if something obstructs it.

Muffled hearing

Hearing sounds not at their actual volume but as if being obstructed in some way; muted.

Ear drops

Liquid medicine designed to be dripped into the ear canal.

Otologic surgery

Surgery performed on the external, middle or internal ear.

Ear tubes

Syn. Tympanostomy tubes

Tiny plastic tubes that help drain the fluid from the middle ear, and balance the pressure in a child's ears. They allow air into the middle ear so that fluid can drain out down the eustachian tube. They're put into the eardrum during surgery and stay in place for an average of 6 to 9 months. The tubes are usually left in place until they fall out on their own or your doctor decides your child no longer needs them.

Hearing test

Syn. Audiometric test

Part of an ear examination that evaluates a person's ability to hear by measuring the ability of sound to reach the brain. The test is often performed using an audiometer.


A device used to determine a person's hearing sensitivity at different frequencies.


Hearing specialists who are trained to identify, diagnose, measure, and treat hearing disorders or balance problems.

Hearing loss

The inability to hear sound either partly or totally in one or both ears.

Hard of hearing (adj)

Syn. Hearing-impaired

A term applied to persons whose hearing is impaired but who have enough hearing left for practical use;

having reduced or deficient hearing ability;


Partially or wholly lacking or deprived of the sense of hearing; unable to hear.

Hearing aid

A small device that fits in or on the ear, worn by a hard of hearing person to amplify sound.

Completely-in-the-canal hearing aid

A device that is molded to fit inside your ear canal and can improve mild to moderate hearing loss in adults.

In-the-ear hearing aid

Syn. Full-shell

A custom made device that fills most of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear. This style is helpful for people with mild to severe hearing loss.

Behind-the-ear hearing aid

A device that hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind the ear. The hearing aid picks up sound, amplifies it and carries the amplified sound to an ear mold that fits inside your ear canal. This style is appropriate for almost all types of hearing loss and for people of all ages.

Open-fit hearing aid

Usually a very small behind-the-ear-style device that leaves the ear canal open. Sound travels from the instrument through a small tube or wire to a tiny dome or speaker in the ear canal. This style is best for mild to moderate high-frequency losses where low-frequency hearing is still normal or near normal.

Ear plug

An object made of a soft, pliable material, such as foam or rubber, and fitted into the ear canal to block the entry of water or loud noise.


A type of personal protective equipment that covers the entire outer ear, consisting of two ear coverings connected by a band and worn over the ears to protect them from noise or cold.

Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI)

1725 I Street, NW – Suite 300 / Washington DC 20006 /

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