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What is Atelectasis of the ear drum?

Q: I have retracted ear drums since childhood as a result of which I am hard of hearing. I have been told that over a period of time it will cause erosion of the bones. I am also told that my Eustachian tubes may be defective. Is there any corrective treatment for this?

A:You were rightly told that the Eustachian tubes did have something to do with your problem. It is also sometimes possible for the smaller listening bones in the ear to get eroded with time, if some mucous stays behind the drum off and on. Your problem is called Atelectasis of the ear drum. It is of various grades, depending on the type of retraction and the way it is draping the small listening bones. You can definitely be helped by surgery, where the ear drum will be lifted off your middle ear mucus layer, a silastic sheet put in place and the small bones corrected, if possible. Improvement in hearing is definitely possible.

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