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Can Ear Infections Lead To Hearing Loss

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How Is Sudden Hearing Loss Treated


There are many treatments for SSNHL. Treatment is most successful the earlier it is given. Treatment can include oral steroids or steroids injected directly into the ear . If the first treatments do not work, your otolaryngologist should discuss âsalvage therapy.â The benefits of treatment may include more quick and complete recovery of hearing, but there are also side effects of steroids that must be considered when choosing from the available options. Side effects of steroids may include sleep problems, anxiety, depression, or mood swings, increased appetite with possible weight gain, dizziness, jitteriness, high blood sugar, and/or high blood pressure. With intratympanic steroids risks include pain, dizziness, residual hole in the ear drum, and infection. In head-to-head comparisons, intratympanic injection of steroids causes much fewer side effects than oral steroids.

Watchful waiting may be recommended. This is because half of patients may get back hearing on their ownâthese are usually patients with mild to moderate degrees of hearing loss, but healthcare providers do not currently have a way to predict who will get better without treatment.

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.

What Is Chronic Otitis Media

When an ear infection does not completely go away or returns often, it is referred to as chronic. If left untreated, chronic ear infections can lead to a variety of complications including hearing loss, damage to the eardrum, damage to the bones in the middle ear, chronic or recurring drainage from the ear, balance problems, a middle ear cyst called a cholesteatoma, facial paralysis and inflammation of the brain.

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How Do I Know If I Have An Ear Infection

Ear infections are the most common reason children are brought to the doctor and estimates suggest that by their third birthday, 5 in 6 children will have suffered from an ear infection. Theyre not exclusive to children either, adults can get them too. If youre having ear pain or your child is complaining of ear pain, you are probably wondering do ear infections go away on their own? or do I really have to take my child to the doctor for another ear infection?.;

Signs And Symptoms Of Hearing Loss

Can Ear Infections Lead to Hearing Loss in Teens?

It’s not always easy to tell if you’re losing your hearing.

Common signs include:

  • difficulty hearing other people clearly, and misunderstanding what they say, especially in;noisy places
  • asking people to repeat themselves
  • listening to music or watching television loudly
  • having to concentrate hard to hear what other people are saying, which can be tiring or stressful

The signs can be slightly different if you only;have hearing loss in 1 ear or if a young child has hearing loss.

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Swimmers Ear And Hearing Loss

Swimmers Ear is a medical condition, which sometimes leads to temporary hearing loss. This condition is due to the trapped water in the ear canal which results in the accumulation of bacteria on the skin surface.

Common situations that risk swimmers ear includes stagnant water, hot tub, swimming pools, showers, water slides in the waterpark, and other places with moisture.

People having eczema, seborrhea, or skin damage in their ear canal are more prone to getting an infection. Specific chemicals in hair sprays or hair dyes can trigger the condition when used with a cotton ball.

People may experience a hearing difficulty in the case of a swimmers ear if it goes untreated. With proper treatment, their hearing impairment diminishes.

But if the treatment is ineffective, the condition may continue to occur resulting in recurring cases of hearing loss. In extreme cases, the base of the skull, cranial nerves and brain can also be damaged as the infection spreads.

For the swimmers ear, applying ear drops during the initial stages of infection can help to treat it. The composition of these eardrops as boric or acetic acid which stops harmful bacteria from further multiplication.

If you suspect of suffering from swimmers ear, consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment. The infection can also get into bone and cartilage around the ear causing temporary deafness.

Clogged Ear: The Sinus

A sinus infection primarily affects your nose, but symptoms can extend to the ears as well. The sinus-ear connection stems from the fact that your sinuses and ears are connected; therefore, clogged and congested sinuses also affect the ears.

There are many ways you can help improve your sinus infection and obtain relief in your ears. Below are some tips that can help decongest your sinuses.

  • Use a nasal saline or apply a warm moist washcloth to your nose to add moisture. Humidifiers are also useful to help add moisture to the air and not dry out your nose.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications can help relieve ear pain.
  • Over-the-counter decongestants can help clear out sinus cavities.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures; hot or cold weather can worsen sinuses.
  • Keep your head up; putting it down applies added pressure.

Sinus-related ear problems can also lead to dizziness. If you experience dizziness due to sinuses, you may want to avoid fast movements as it can increase dizziness. Its also important to drink plenty of water to thin mucus and avoid caffeine, salt, alcohol and tobacco, which alter blood flow and can worsen dizziness.

Related:;Sinusitis Vertigo and Dizziness, A Complication of Sinus Infection

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What Are The Causes Of Labyrinthitis

Viral infectionsâViral infections of the inner ear or activation of a virus that is has hibernated within nerve endings are thought to be the most common cause of labyrinthitis. The specific virus that causes this is usually unknown in most cases. A unique type of labyrinthitis may be caused by reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus , called Ramsay Hunt syndrome, or herpes zoster oticus. Patients may experience ear pain, facial weakness, and blisters around the ear, ear canal, and/or eardrum in addition to hearing loss and dizziness.

Bacterial infectionâA bacterial infection of the middle ear can spread to the inner ear and cause bacterial labyrinthitis. Children with inner ear deformities are at a higher risk for bacterial labyrinthitis either from a middle ear infection or from the spread of bacterial meningitis to the inner ear. Severe bacterial labyrinthitis can occur with ear pain, ear infection, drainage of pus from the ear, fevers, or chills. Patients may require hospitalization. This type of infection has a higher risk for permanent hearing loss and may also lead to labyrinthitis ossificans, where there is bone formation in the inner ear after the infection.

AutoimmuneâAutoimmune labyrinthitis is a rare cause of labyrinthitis and may come and go. It is often associated with other autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders.

How Middle Ear Infections Are Treated

Can ear infections cause hearing loss?

Most ear infections clear up within three to five days and don’t need any specific treatment. If necessary, paracetamol or ibuprofen should be used to relieve pain and a high temperature.

Make sure any painkillers you give to your child are appropriate for their age. Read more about giving your child painkillers.

Antibiotics aren’t routinely used to treat middle ear infections, although they may occasionally be prescribed if symptoms persist or are particularly severe.

Read more about treating middle ear infections

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What Is High Frequency Hearing Loss

High frequency hearing loss refers to having trouble hearing sounds in the 2,000 to 8,000 Hertz range. This happens when sensory hearing cells within your ears cochlea are damaged or die.

These hair cells are charged with creating electrical impulses from the sounds that are collected by your ears. Your brain will then translate those electrical impulses into a sound that it recognizes. The lower part of the cochlea translates high-frequency sounds and lower-frequency sounds are perceived by the hair cells at the top. When damage occurs from the bottom up, higher-frequency sounds are impacted first.

Adults that have this type of hearing loss might have more difficulty understanding childrens and female voices more than male voices. They also might have trouble hearing a doorbell, phone ring, or microwave oven beep.

Speech can become difficult to understand with high frequency hearing loss. When children suffer from this, it can severely impact their ability to learn language and speech as well as advance in school.

Where speech is concerned, some consonants like f, th, and s are more difficult to hear. This is because they are generally spoken at a higher audible frequency than other letters such as j, z, and g. So, a person might have difficulty hearing and understanding words like this,taste, and first.

Conductive Hearing Loss Caused By Ear Infections

Conductive hearing loss can be brought on by chronic ear infections. Put simply, sound waves dont reach the inner ear with enough intensity. The ear has components along the canal that amplify the sound wave so that when it reaches the tiny hair cells of the inner ear, it is strong enough to trigger a vibration. With a conductive hearing loss, something changes along that route and the sound isnt amplified as much.

Bacteria dont merely sit and do nothing in the ear when you get an ear infection. They need to eat to live and multiply, so they break down those mechanisms that amplify sound waves. The damage is normally done to the tiny little bones and also the eardrum. It doesnt take very much to break down these delicate bones. These bones will never come back once they are gone. Thats permanent damage and your hearing wont return on its own. Surgically putting in prosthetic bones is one possible way that a doctor might be able to correct this. The eardrum may have some scar tissue once it repairs itself, which can affect its ability to move. This can also potentially be corrected with surgery.

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Where Is The Middle Ear

The middle ear is behind the eardrum and is also home to the delicate bones that aid in hearing. These bones are the hammer , anvil and stirrup . To provide the bigger picture, lets look at the whole structure and function of the ear:

The ear structure and function

There are three main parts of the ear: outer, middle and inner.

  • The outer ear is the outside external ear flap and the ear canal .
  • The middle ear is the air-filled space between the eardrum and the inner ear. The middle ear houses the delicate bones that transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. This is where ear infections occur.
  • The inner ear contains the snail-shaped labyrinth that converts sound vibrations received from the middle ear to electrical signals. The auditory nerve carries these signals to the brain.

Other nearby parts

  • The eustachian tube regulates air pressure within the middle ear, connecting it to the upper part of the throat.
  • Adenoids are small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. Adenoids help fight infection caused by bacteria that enters through the mouth.

Can Ear Infection Cause Hearing Loss

Can an Ear Infection Lead to Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors including infections , ageing, injury, exposure to noise, infection and heredity. These factors affect the auditory nerve, causing the most common types of hearing impairment, a sensorineural, conductive or mixed hearing loss. But did you know that an ear infection can cause hearing loss?

Hearing loss due to an ear infection is called conductive hearing loss. A middle ear infection can cause fluid to build up, obstructing the eardrum movement and the tiny bones that are attached to it. This ultimately results in hearing problems. The inner ear can also get infected and trigger a hearing deficit.

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Exactly What Is Otitis Media

The easiest way to understand otitis media is that its an infection of the middle ear. It could be any type of microorganism causing the infection but bacteria is the most common.

Ear infections are defined by where they occur in the ear. When the infection is in the pinna, or outer ear, or in front of the eardrum, the condition is called otitis externa or swimmers ear. An inner ear infection, otherwise known as labyrinthitis is brought about by bacteria in the cochlea.

The area behind the eardrum but in front of the cochlea is referred to as the middle ear. The three tiny bones in this area, known as ossicles, are responsible for vibrating the membranes of the inner ear. The eardrum can actually break because of the pressure from this type of infection, which is likely to be really painful. This pressure is not only very painful, it also causes a loss of hearing. Sound waves are then blocked by the accumulation of infectious material inside of the ear canal.

A middle ear infection includes the following symptoms:

  • Ear drainage
  • Pain in the ear
  • Reduced hearing

Eventually, hearing will come back for most people. The pressure goes away and the ear canal opens up. This will only happen when the infection gets better. Sometimes there are complications, though.

Causes Of Swimmers Ear

  • Allergies and sensitivities- It is not a common cause for the swimmers ear to occur. Hairspray, hair dye, jewelry, or even lotions can be allergic that can get into the ear and lead to swimmers ear.
  • Moisture- Spending too much time in the water and not draining your ear properly can result in a swimmers ear. Sweating and excessive humidity also contributes to it.
  • Open Wound- Any open wounds i.e. a cut or scratch allow bacteria or other microbes to get into the bloodstream and cause illness. It can also occur due to the use of a cotton swab or sticking fingers in the ear.
  • Excess Bacteria- As bacteria proliferate in a moist and warm environment our ear is a suitable place for their occurrence. So, Bacteria accumulation is the basic cause of ear infection. Water with a high level of bacteria can be a major cause of swimmers ear.
  • Excessive cleaning- Excessive cleaning of the ear canal using a cotton swab or any other object.

The biggest concern is the number of places outside the pool or shower where you can acquire a swimmers ear.

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How Do I Prevent Sinus Infections From Spreading To My Ear

There isnt any special solution to stop an infection from reaching your ear the best thing to do is to see your GP for a proper investigation and treatment. If you have repeat, long term sinus infections then your risk of developing associated hearing loss will increase.

Permanent hearing damage is rare, but letting an infection develop and worsen over time could lead to damage to structures in your inner ear. There are also known cases of sudden sensorineural hearing loss as a result of chronic sinusitis.1 This is why regularly having your hearing reviewed is so important.

Can Stress Cause You To Lose Your Hearing

Reversing Hearing Loss Caused by Ear Infection AMITA Health

Although it might sound strange, stress can negatively affect your hearing health. Stress and anxiety tend to have an impact on your circulation. Since the health of the tiny hairs responsible for translating sound into electrical impulses depends on circulation, excessive and chronic stress can lead to hearing loss. Stress is known to cause sudden hearing loss. ;;

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Ear Infections That Can Lead To Hearing Loss

Rockwell MD | Seattle, WA | Nov 2018

There are three common types of ear infection causing hearing loss to children and adults. Acute Otitis Media- This when inner parts of your ear is inflamed due to an infection. Fluid typically builds up behind the eardrum and can cause hearing loss, fever, and other discomfort.Otitis Media with Effusion This is an aftermath of a previous ear infection occurrence where fluids remain present in the ear. In most cases, pain, discomfort, and other symptoms may not be apparent. However, patients may experience slight hearing loss.Chronic Otitis Media with Effusion This is a case where ear infection and/or fluid buildup is an ongoing occurrence.

These types of infections can cause temporary hearing loss. Left untreated, can lead to eardrum perforation and obstruction of other inner parts of the ear. This can worsen and cause long-term hearing loss.

Antibiotics can often treat ear infections early. In prolonged cases where severe damage and hearing loss is evident, a visit to specialist for an ear exam is the first step to evaluate treatment procedure.

Dr. James Rockwell MD is an Ear Specialist with over 20 years of experience. He has worked with over 1,000 patients in the Seattle area. Dr. James Rockwell offers the highest quality of medical treatment in a caring, friendly, and professional environment.

Schedule Your Ear Exam Today!

Who Is Most Likely To Get An Ear Infection

Middle ear infection is the most common childhood illness . Ear infections occur most often in children who are between age 3 months and 3 years, and are common until age 8. Some 25% of all children will have repeated ear infections.

Adults can get ear infections too, but they dont happen nearly as often as they do in children.

Risk factors for ear infections include:

  • Age: Infants and young children are at greater risk for ear infections.
  • Family history: The tendency to get ear infections can run in the family.
  • Colds: Having colds often increases the chances of getting an ear infection.
  • Allergies: Allergies cause inflammation of the nasal passages and upper respiratory tract, which can enlarge the adenoids. Enlarged adenoids can block the eustachian tube, preventing ear fluids from draining. This leads to fluid buildup in the middle ear, causing pressure, pain and possible infection.
  • Chronic illnesses: People with chronic illnesses are more likely to develop ear infections, especially patients with immune deficiency and chronic respiratory disease, such as cystic fibrosis and asthma.
  • Ethnicity: Native Americans and Hispanic children have more ear infections than other ethnic groups.

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