What Are The Possible Complications Of Ear Infections
The common ear infection can sometimes lead to hearing problems and, rarely, serious and even life-threatening complications.
The common ear infection can sometimes lead to hearing problems and, rarely, serious and even life-threatening complications.
Ear infections arent usually a huge cause for concern. Theyre not contagious, and in most cases they clear up on their own or with over-the-counter pain medicine and a round of antibiotics.
Theyre also very common, especially among children. In fact, at least 8 in 10 children will have one or more ear infections by their third birthday.
Complications, though rare, do occur. When they do, they can be serious.
Complications can happen at any age, but they’re much more common in children under the age of 1, says Sujana S. Chandrasekhar, MD, a partner at ENT and Allergy Associates in New York City.
We’re really aggressive when a small baby comes in with an ear infection because their preformed pathways between the brain and the ear there are a couple that are open, which makes small children more prone to complications, Dr. Chandrasekhar says. Young children we treat early and aggressively to prevent complications.
The following are some complications associated with ear infections:
Will My Hearing Go Back To Normal
Typically when the infections are treated promptly hearing will be restored to normal or close to normal. If, however, there is permanent auditory impairment the treatment is auditory aids. Thankfully, this technology has come a long way over the past few decades, and while it wont fully restore your hearing, these aids give you back a great deal of your hearing and make it easier to handle normal everyday living. Unlike glasses, which let you see immediately, auditory aids can take time to get used to while your brain remembers how to process sounds that is has been missing, so be patient! Let yourself adjust to auditory aids, because it will help you to understand people more effectively than if you didnt use the hearing aids. Work with your audiologist to make each situation work for you.
Treatment Of Otitis Media
Middle ear infection and hearing loss can be prevented by timely treatment, which often includes antibiotics and decongestants. It is vital to complete the antibiotic course as prescribed even if symptoms have abated. This is because fluid may still remain in the ear and become reinfected. Once the Eustachian tube has been restored to working order, it will assist in draining
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When Should I Return To My Healthcare Provider For A Follow
Your healthcare provider will let you know when you need to return for a follow-up visit. At that visit, you or your childs eardrum will be examined to be certain that the infection is going away. Your healthcare provider may also want to test you or your child’s hearing.
Follow-up exams are very important, especially if the infection has caused a hole in the eardrum.
Can This Permanent Hearing Loss Be Avoided
If you think you might have an ear infection, call a doctor immediately. The sooner you get treatment, the better. Also, dont ignore chronic ear infections. The more severe the infections you have, the more damage they cause. Ear infections normally begin with allergies, sinus infections, and colds so take measures to avoid them. If you are a smoker, now is the right time to quit, too, because smoking multiplies your risk of having chronic respiratory problems.
If you are still having problems hearing after having an ear infection, see a doctor. It is possible you have some damage, but that is not the only thing that causes conductive hearing loss. Hearing aids can be very helpful if you have permanent loss of hearing. To get more information about hearing aids, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.
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Ear Infection And Hearing Loss
What is otitis media and ear infection?
Otitis media refers to inflammation of the middle ear. When an abrupt infection occurs, the condition is called acute otitis media. Acute otitis media occurs when a cold, allergy, and the presence of bacteria or viruses lead to the accumulation of pus and mucus behind the eardrum, blocking the Eustachian tube. This can cause earache and fever.
When fluid sits in the middle ear for weeks, the condition is known as otitis media with effusion. This occurs in a recovering ear infection. Fluid can remain in the ear for weeks to many months. If not treated, chronic ear infections have potentially serious consequences such as temporary hearing loss.
Why do children have more ear infections than adults?
To understand earaches and ear infections, you must first know about the Eustachian tube, a narrow channel connecting the inside of the ear to the back of the throat, just above the soft palate and uvula. The tube allows drainage of fluid from the middle ear, which prevents it from building up and bursting the thin ear drum. In a healthy ear, the fluid drains down the tube, assisted by tiny hair cells, and is swallowed.
How does otitis media affect hearing?
Most people with middle ear infection or fluid have some degree of hearing loss. The average hearing loss in ears with fluid is 24 decibels equivalent to wearing ear plugs. Thicker fluid can cause much more loss, up to 45 decibels .
Types of hearing loss
Middle Ear Infection And Hearing Loss
Fortunately, permanent hearing loss from an ear infection is exceedingly rare and is usually accompanied by other factors. Depending on the severity of the infection and the time it takes to get treatment, temporary hearing impairment or loss may occur. This is especially true in cases where the eardrum bursts.
Most instances of hearing loss caused by a middle ear infection is the result of pus and swelling blocking the sound from moving to the inner ear. The majority of ear infections will get better on their own, but many people choose to speak to their primary care physician for antibiotics. Once the infection goes away, your hearing should return to normal on its own.
If the middle ear infection is left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the structures within your middle ear. While rare, an untreated middle ear infection can lead to permanent hearing loss.
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How Long Does Hearing Loss Last In Children
Hearing impairment in children can affect their development, so its important to treat auditory impairment quickly. As in adults, ear infections can cause a child to have an auditory impairment. About 25% of children will have at least one middle infection by the time they are 3 years old. The Eustachian tube is vulnerable to fluid-blockage because it is more horizontal when a child is very young. Fluids in the ears dont drain as easily, causing auditory impairment, which is usually temporary. When the infection is treated, the situation usually resolves itself. Frequent infections that go untreated can cause damage to the eardrum and auditory nerve, which could result in sensorineural loss, which is typically permanent.
What Causes An Ear Infection
Ear infections happen in the middle ear. They are caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The infection creates pressure in the Eustachian tube. This tube does not work properly when filled with drainage from the nose or mucous from allergies, colds, bacteria, or viruses.
A childs adenoids sometimes can block the opening of Eustachian tubes because they are larger in young children.
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Hearing Aids And Implants
If you have permanent hearing loss, a specialist will often recommend hearing aids. These will not make your hearing perfect, but they make sounds louder and clearer.
Some people may need a hearing implant. These are devices that are attached to your skull or placed deep inside your ear.
What Is Otitis Media And Ear Infection
Otitis media refers to inflammation of the middle ear. When an abrupt infection occurs, the condition is called “acute otitis media.” Acute otitis media occurs when a cold, allergy, and the presence of bacteria or viruses lead to the accumulation of pus and mucus behind the eardrum, blocking the Eustachian tube. This can cause earache and fever.
When fluid sits in the middle ear for weeks, the condition is known as “otitis media with effusion.” This occurs in a recovering ear infection. Fluid can remain in the ear for weeks to many months. If not treated, chronic ear infections have potentially serious consequences such as temporary hearing loss. Why do children have more ear infections than adults?
To understand earaches, and ear infections, you must first know about the Eustachian tube, a narrow channel connecting the inside of the ear to the back of the throat, just above the soft palate and uvula. The tube allows drainage of fluid from the middle ear, which prevents it from building up and bursting the thin ear drum. In a healthy ear, the fluid drains down the tube, assisted by tiny hair cells, and is swallowed.
Children have Eustachian tubes that are shorter, more horizontal, and straighter than those of adults. These factors make the journey for the bacteria quick and relatively easy. It also makes it harder for the ears to clear the fluid, since it cannot drain with the help of gravity. A childs tube is also floppier, with a smaller opening that easily clogs.
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What Exactly Is A Balance Disorder
A balance disorder is a condition that leads to feelings of dizziness or unsteadiness. A person suffering from balance issues may feel as if they are spinning or floating, even while sitting down. During movement, people affected by these disorders might experience shifts like a sailor stuck on the stormy seas. In addition to moving difficulties, people with chronic balance issues often experience:
- Intense vertigo
- Blurred Vision
- Disorientation or confusion
Doctors estimate 50 percent of US adults will face balance issues in their lifetimes. While these problems become more common with age, theyre certainly not limited to retirement homes. Dizziness, vertigo, and associated complications can strike at any age.
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Can You Prevent Ear Infections
Because colds are very infectious and easily spread among children, it can be very hard to prevent your child from getting sick. However, there are risk factors you can control:
- Limit your childs exposure to secondhand smoke
- Make sure your childand youare vaccinated against the flu every year
- Follow good hygiene habits, like frequent handwashing and using hand sanitizer
- Teach your child to cough into her elbow, not her hands
- Wear swim ear plugs when swimming
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What Are The Causes Of Middle Ear Infections
Any respiratory infection that makes its way to the Eustachian tube or middle ear area can if not fought off relatively quickly by the body produce a disabling effect upon the Eustachian tube. This is more common in young children since the Eustachian tube is shorter and more parallel to the jaw at the younger ages. Coupled with a weaker and still developing immune system, younger children are notoriously susceptible to middle ear infections.
If the infection is able to remain and disable the pressure-equalizing function of the Eustachian tube, negative pressure in the middle ear rises. This lack of pressure allows the secretions of the ear to build up and become infected. As the Eustachian tube is also prevented from performing mucus drainage, there is no way for the infected secretions to leave the middle ear, which results in a middle ear infection or an otitis media.
Just What Is Otitis Media
Basically, otitis media is an infection of the middle ear. It could possibly be any kind of microorganism causing the infection however bacteria is the most common.
Its what part of the ear that the infection happens in that identifies it. When the infection is in the pinna, or outer ear, or in the front of the eardrum, the condition is otitis externa or swimmers ear. If the bacterial growth occurs in the cochlea, the term is labyrinthitis or inner ear infection.
The space behind the eardrum but in front of the cochlea is referred to as the middle ear. The membranes of the inner ear are vibrated by three very small bones called ossicles which are located in this area. An infection in this part of the ear tends to be very painful because it puts pressure on the eardrum, usually until it actually breaks. This pressure is not only painful, it also causes a loss of hearing. The infectious material accumulates and blocks the ear canal enough to hinder the movement of sound waves.
A middle ear infection has the following symptoms:
- Drainage from the ear
- Pain in the ear
Usually, hearing will come back in the course of time. Hearing will return after the pressure dissipates allowing the ear canal to open up. This will only happen when the infection gets better. Sometimes there are complications, though.
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Can Middle Ear Infections Be Prevented
It’s not possible to prevent middle ear infections, but there are some things you can do that may reduce your child’s risk of developing the condition. These include:
- make sure your child is up-to-date with their routine vaccinations particularly the pneumococcal vaccine and the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine
- avoid exposing your child to smoky environments
- don’t give your child a dummy once they’re older than six to 12 months old
- don’t feed your child while they’re lying flat on their back
- if possible, feed your baby with breast milk rather than formula milk
Avoiding contact with other children who are unwell may also help reduce your child’s chances of catching an infection that could lead to a middle ear infection.
Warning Signs To Watch Out For
The risk of having any of these complications is extremely low, Chandrasekhar says. And thanks to advances in treatments, complications have become even more rare.
But there are a few signs to be on the lookout for. Pain that continues to get worse, changes in your mental state, or a very high spiking fever are all indications theres potentially something serious going on, Chandrasekhar says.
To better your chances of recovery, visit your doctor as soon as you notice any of these symptoms.
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Chronic Otitis Media And Hearing Loss
- Chronic Otitis Media and Hearing Loss
What is otitis media?
Otitis media refers to inflammation of the middle ear. When infection occurs, the condition is called “acute otitis media.” Acute otitis media occurs when a cold, allergy, or upper respiratory infection, and the presence of bacteria or viruses lead to the accumulation of pus and mucus behind the eardrum, blocking the Eustachian tube. This causes earache and swelling.
When fluid forms in the middle ear, the condition is known as “otitis media with effusion.” This occurs in a recovering ear infection or when one is about to occur. Fluid can remain in the ear for weeks to many months. When a discharge from the ear persists or repeatedly returns, this is sometimes called chronic middle ear infection. Fluid can remain in the ear up to three weeks following the infection. If not treated, chronic ear infections have potentially serious consequences such as temporary or permanent hearing loss.How does otitis media affect a childs hearing?
All children with middle ear infection or fluid have some degree of hearing loss. The average hearing loss in ears with fluid is 24 decibels…equivalent to wearing ear plugs. Thicker fluid can cause much more loss, up to 45 decibels .
Do children lose their hearing for reasons other than chronic otitis media?
Children can incur temporary hearing loss for other reasons than chronic middle ear infection and Eustachian tube dysfunction. They include:
Ear Infection Hearing Loss Is Often Temporary
Hearing loss caused by an ear infection is usually temporary and subsides after treatment. Your physician may choose to treat your ear infection with antibiotics. If the antibiotics successfully treat the infection, your hearing should return to normal. If you have a history of recurrent ear infections, your physician may insert a tube in your ear drum to help the fluid drain.
Eliminating the buildup of fluid relieves the pain and pressure that often accompanies an ear infection and can prevent the eardrum from rupturing. If fluid builds up without resolution, the pressure can cause your eardrum to rupture.
A history of recurrent ear infections can also lead to tympanosclerosis, which is the thickening or scarring of the tympanic membrane. A perforated eardrum and tympanosclerosis adversely affect the mobility of the eardrum and reduce hearing acuity. If your hearing does not return to normal following treatment, your physician and hearing professional may recommend hearing aids to treat the unresolved hearing loss.
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How To Help Prevent Ear Infections
While most children get ear infections, there are a few things parents can do to try to prevent them:
- Breast feeding infants until at least age 6 months may help to lessen the number of ear infections.
- Keep your child away from cigarette smoke. Do not smoke or allow smoking in your home or car.
- Always hold your baby with his head up during feeding time . Babies should not be fed by propping the bottle or while lying flat.The formula can get into the middle ear and cause an infection.
- Do notleave a bottle in the crib for the baby to drink at bedtime.
- Make sure your childs immunizations are up to date.
- If your child is diagnosed with acute otitis media, avoid giving him a pacifier.Dress your child properly in cold and rainy weather.