We estimate that more than 50 million people in the United States are affected by otic disorders, with approximately 20 million patients seeking treatment each year for the most common conditions …” – Otonomy Inc. Otic Disorders. 2014

The oldest medical specialty in the United States is otolaryngology, the study of the ears, nose and throat, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. A subset of otolaryngology is otology, the study of the ear. The ear is made of three parts, the outer, middle and inner, and otic disorders can occur in all three.

The outer ear is composed of the auricle, or pinna, the ear canal and the tympanic membrane. Two common otic disorders in the outer ear are otitis externa and cerumen impaction. Otitis externa, also known as swimmer’s ear, is an infection in the outer ear. Cerumen impaction is the build-up of excess earwax in the ear canal. Approximately 4% of primary care patients see their doctors about cerumen removal, which makes it the most common otolaryngology procedure, according to a 2007 American Family Physician article.

The eardrum, ossicles and the tympanic cavity comprise the middle ear. Two common otic disorders in the middle ear are acute otitis media and ear barotraumas. Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear and is the most common reason for a child to see a physician. In the United States, 75% of children experience at least one case of otitis media before turning three years old, according to Medline Plus. Ear barotraumas are stresses on the middle ear from change in pressure. A common example is ear pressure during airplane ascents and descents.

The inner ear consists of the cochlea, the oval window, the semicircular canals and the auditory and vestibular nerves. Otic disorders of the inner ear include balance disorders, tinnitus, Ménière’s disease and hearing loss. Vestibular disorders impact the part of the inner ear that affects balance and dizziness and affect up to 69 million Americans, according to the Vestibular Disorders Association. Tinnitus, a ringing in the ears, impacts as many as 50 million people in the United States and is most common war wound in veterans. Hearing loss accompanies 90% of tinnitus cases, according to the Hearing Health Foundation.

Otic disorders can be classified into three sections, those involving the outer ear, those involving the middle ear and those involving the inner ear. There are limited treatment options for inner ear diseases, with the exception of medical devices, such as cochlear implants and hearing aids. At Orbis Biosciences, it is our hope that our UnisunTM platform will provide an additional treatment option for patients who are suffering from otic disorders of the middle ear.