One of the most common ear diseases is known as otitis media, a middle ear disorder. Most common among young children, otitis media probably results from Eustachian tubes that are shorter and more horizontal than in adults, allowing infection to spread and preventing fluids in the middle ear from draining. It can bring about permanent hearing loss, although modern medication is generally able to clear up the disease. Serious cases may require drainage of collected fluids through an incision in the eardrum or insertion of a tiny drainage tube. Other ear diseases include otosclerosis, involving excessive bone growth in the middle ear, and presbycusis, the progressive decay of the inner ear's hearing nerve.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.