Ear infections are pretty common among children—however, no age matters for ear infections.
Temporary hearing loss from ear infections is also pretty common among people of all ages. When fluid accumulates inside your ear, inflammation develops in the middle ear. This middle ear infection might result in short-term hearing impairment or even severe hearing loss if the infections are serious.
This blog post will let you know the connection between ear infection and hearing loss and the possible diagnosis for this condition. Knowing about ear infections is vital for hearing loss treatment.
This infection is also known as otitis media, and it takes place when bacteria or viruses infect the area inside the ear. A middle ear infection is prevalent among young children. Moreover, these infections usually occur in early spring or during the winter.
There are times when middle ear infections go away without medication. However, if you face any kind of severe problems, you should always consult with an expert for medical treatment as this infection can severely impact your hearing.
Middle ear infections are of two types:
1. Acute Otitis Media
Acute otitis media comes on very quickly and can cause redness and swelling in the back of the ear, near the eardrum. Ear pain and hearing problems are often caused by fluid and mucous getting stuck in the middle ear.
2. Otitis Media with Effusion
Even when an infection goes away, there might be times when fluid or mucus builds up inside the middle ear. This accumulation of fluids and mucous can make your ears full and affect your hearing.
Many reasons might be responsible for middle ear infections. When someone gets a cold, the virus can spread to their ears, making the inside of the ear feel hurt or swollen. Fluid will build up behind their ears when the pharynx is blocked in some people. A lot of the time, this bacteria will grow in the fluid, which can cause infection and pain.
Middle ear infection, aka otitis media, takes place due to bacteria and virus inflammation in your eardrum. This infection in your middle ear can also lead to hearing loss.
The middle ear infection is of two types:
- Acute otitis media (it traps fluid inside the ear that causes ear infection)
- Otitis media with effusion (it builds the fluid again even after the infection is cleared)
Here are some of the rare types of otitis media:
- Chronic suppurative otitis media. This infection is a complication during acute otitis media. It is discharged inside the middle ear due to the perforation of your eardrum. It often results in hearing loss in children.
- Adhesive otitis media. It collapses the eardrum, and it usually occurs when your eustachian tube doesn’t work effectively for a long period of time.
However, middle ear infections are more common among children than adults as their Eustachian tube is comparatively smaller, making it hard for the fluid to get drained out.
In severe cases, these infections can also lead to profound hearing loss. However, even in these worst-case scenarios, doctors suggest wearing hearing aids to help you with your hearing to hear properly, especially when you are in crowded areas.
Most of the time, the hearing loss caused by a middle ear infection is temporary. When the fluid in the middle ear drains away, it doesn’t stop sound vibrations from being sent through the body.
However, this fluid can stay there for a long time, and it can usually take about 48 to 72 hours for the slight infections to go away. Although, the middle ear fluid may stay there for as long as three months, and during this time, you may not be able to hear well. So, your audiologists might suggest you use hearing aids until this fluid goes away.
It can be very painful and unpleasant when you get an ear infection. If you face any such issues, you can be sure that it may cause an ear infection. Below are some of the significant symptoms of middle ear infection:
- Fever- Sudden fever might be a symptom that your body is trying to fight infection.
- Ear drainage: Fluid or pus draining may be a solid reason for a middle ear infection. The fluid color may be bloody or yellowish, which is a sign of a ruptured eardrum.
- Dizziness: The fluid accumulated in the middle ear can cause unsteadiness or even dizziness.
- Hearing issues: The accumulation of fluid in the middle ear can cause mild or even moderate hearing loss.
Most of these symptoms are the signs of inner ear infection, and when you encounter any of these symptoms, you need to take medical attention as soon as possible.
Possible Diagnosis for this Infection
There was a time when the only effective cure for this infection was antibiotics. However, there are chances that using these antibiotics can make these viruses and bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. Even improper ways of using antibiotics may lead to antibiotic resistance.
To help you with this issue, experts have come up with the most effective home remedies that you can use to counter-attack the ear infection:
- Ice packs or warm compress: You can use ice packs or warm compressors for anyone you prefer. Moreover, you can also alternate between these two therapies to give you the best relief.
- Pain killers: A dose of medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can aid you in reducing ear pain or fever. However, we still recommend you consult with an expert before taking any doses or medications.
- Alter your sleeping positions: You can put an extra pillow under the head so that this tilt helps your ears to drain the fluid when you are asleep.
These are a few possible home remedies that you can use to deal with your infection. However, if these remedies don’t work, you must consult with an expert to look after the matter.
An ear infection is one of the reasons for hearing impairment. That’s not the only reason. Genetics, loud noise exposure, and also aging contribute to hearing loss. Moreover, some people are born with hearing loss, and some rare cases may be due to high-dosage of medications.
These medications include:
- Loop diuretics
- Too much intake of aspirins
- Chemotherapy agents
Hearing impairments can also take place from other factors like:
- Meniere’s disease
- Head injuries
It’s also possible to lose hearing in one ear, especially when the ears are exposed to high-pitched or loud noises.
SSHL, or sudden sensorineural hearing loss, can also occur when the sense organs in the middle ear get affected due to loud noises or due to any other factors like:
- Inner ear disorders
- Other medical conditions
In this section, our experts explained some of the ways to prevent hearing loss from an ear infection:
- Stop smoking: Research shows that smoking can increase the chances of ear infections. So, it’s important that you stay away from smoking or passive smoking as this can lead to middle ear infections.
- Stay away from colds: Flu and cold can also lead to ear infections. If possible, wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizers. Most of these infections start with flu or cold.
- Control allergies: Mucus and inflammation can occur due to allergic reactions, which can also block the eustachian tube that can make middle ear infections more likely.
When you have control over these factors, you may be able to prevent ear infections and hearing impairment. If you still face issues, then you should always consult with an expert to aid you with further suggestions and treatments.
1. How can you regain your hearing after a middle ear infection?
Usually, hearing loss is restored after the ear infection is cured. However, there might be times when the infection can get worse and result in severe hearing impairment. In such cases, surgeons might suggest you with hearing aids, or they may install prosthetic bones through surgery. Although the eardrum will recover itself, some scars in the tissues may interfere with the sound vibrations.
2. Is hearing loss from an ear infection actually curable?
Yes, it’s curable, and it doesn’t require intense treatment as long as the infection is not severe. If the infection spreads too much, then moderate to severe hearing loss may take place. You may require intensive treatment, or your doctor might recommend you to use hearing aids in such a case.
3. How can you know if your hearing is permanent or temporary?
If you are exposed to high-pitched sounds, then there are chances that you may develop a temporary hearing impairment. However, if you are frequently exposed to such high sounds, it may get permanent. Temporary hearing impairments usually occur because of ear infections. If you can’t regain your hearing senses anymore, then it’s considered to be a permanent hearing loss.
4. What to do when the ear infections don’t cure with antibiotics?
If your middle ear infection isn’t cured with antibiotics, then it may be a sign of resistant pneumococcus bacteria. The best option that you have now is consulting with an ear specialist to look over the matter. They may carry out specific treatments that may aid you in overcoming the infections.
5. Is it possible that ear infections can spread to your brain?
It’s possible that ear infections have spread to your brain and the significant sign of this is a severe headache in a particular section of the brain. It may also cause mental changes like irritability, confusion, issues with nerve functioning, and even worse, paralysis on one side of your body.
Hearing loss from an ear infection can happen to anyone, no matter what age they may be. Although most times, these infections are curable and temporary, if situations get worse, then the infection may spread and cause severe damage, including brain issues and severe hearing impairment. If you encounter any severe ear infections, it’s always recommended to consult with an expert and take further treatments.