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Do Ear Infections Cause Hearing Loss

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How Could Earplugs Cause Damage

Can ear infections cause hearing loss?

With all that, youd think that wearing earplugs would be a no-brainer when it comes to protecting your hearing. But particularly if youre in situations where youre exposed to loud noises all the time , over-the-head earmuffs or noise-reducing headphones are a better option. Earplugs are better-suited to one-off situations like a concert or game than for regular use.

Why? For one, wax. Your ears produce wax to protect themselves, and if youre constantly wearing earplugs, theyre going to produce more of itand youre likely to push it in with the plugs. This can lead to problems like impacted earwax, which can cause tinnitus and other hearing problems.

Ear infections can be another problem for people who use earplugs. If you repeatedly wear the same pairand you dont clean them between usesthey can become breeding grounds for bacteria. Ear infections are, at a minimum, a painful annoyance. But at the worst-case-scenario end of the spectrum, they can also cause hearing loss if left untreated.

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.

Hearing Loss Caused By Ear Infections And How To Treat It

In some cases, an ear infection can cause temporary hearing loss. The term for this type of hearing loss is conductive hearing loss and it occurs when the infection blocks sound from reaching the middle ear via the ear canal.

Two of the most common infections that cause hearing loss are otitis media and otitis externa. Otitis media is a middle ear infection and otitis externa is an infection of the ear canal that causes swelling.

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Otitis Media What Is It

The simplest way to comprehend otitis media is that its an infection of the middle ear. Bacteria is the most common cause, but it might be caused by any type of micro-organism.

Its what part of the ear that the infection develops in that defines it. When the infection is in the pinna, or outer ear, or in the front of the eardrum, the condition is called otitis externa or swimmers ear. If the bacterial growth occurs in the cochlea, the medical term is labyrinthitis or inner ear infection.

The middle ear consists of the area behind the eardrum but in front of the cochlea. This area contains the three ossicles, or very small bones, that vibrate the membranes of the inner ear. The eardrum can actually break due to the pressure from this sort of infection, which is likely to be extremely painful. Your failure to hear very well is also because of this pressure. The ear canal can be plugged by infectious material which can then result in a loss of hearing.

The signs or symptoms of a middle ear infection in an adult include:

  • Ear drainage
  • Pain in the ear
  • Diminished ability to hear

For the majority of people, hearing comes back in time. Hearing will come back after the pressure starts to go away enabling the ear canal to open up. This will only happen when the infection gets better. Sometimes there are complications, though.

Why Utilize Earplugs In The First Place

Ear Infections &  Hearing Loss

The argument for earplugs is fairly simple: Properly used, earplugs can reduce your exposure to excessive sound levels and thereby protect your hearing. Perhaps youve noticed that your hearing sounds different after you leave a loud venue, for instance, a football game with a noisy crowd, and you might also have symptoms of tinnitus. This happens because those super-loud noises can actually bend the small hair cells inside your inner ear. In a couple of days, when the hairs have recovered, it often goes back to normal.

But in certain circumstances, there is a constant assault on those tiny hairs, especially if you work in a noisy industry like the music business or around jet planes. As opposed to recovering after bending, the cells are permanently damaged. Youve got just about 16,000 of those tiny cells in each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be injured or ruined before your hearing has changed enough for the deficiency to appear in a hearing assessment.

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Headphones Carry Dirt And Bacteria

Depending on the type of headphones you have, they could be more likely to pick up and carry dirt and bacteria. On-ear headphones sit right on your ear canal, making the transmission easier they are also often uncovered, meaning the sponge can absorb more dirt and pathogens.

Ideally, you want something thats easy to clean and doesnt come into close contact with your ear canal. Over-ear headphones are usually covered with strong material, leather and pleather being the easiest to clean, and the cups are replaceable.

Earbuds are the worst as they go straight into the ear. Do yourself a favor, just quickly take out your earphones and look inside the silicone tips. Prepare yourself, it aint gonna be pretty. Luckily, theyre quite simple to clean.

When you take them out of your ears, you usually just pop them in your bag, trouser pockets, or whatever youve got with you, right? And then put them back in our ears later without even thinking about it. You are actually introducing a whole new biome to your sensitive ear ecosystem. Dont do that, clean them regularly, and use a dedicated protective casing to store them when youre not using them.

Cleaning them is simple, and youd be surprised at the gunk that comes out. For easy to follow steps, go to the end of the article.

Some Of The Harmful Ways In Which Earphones Can Affect Our Ears Are:

  • NIHL
  • Pain in the ears
  • Effect on the brain

NIHL: It is not only about the volume that you expose your ears to through those earphones but also the duration that can lead to noise-induced hearing loss .

Tinnitus: The damaged hair cells in cochlea can result in a ringing, buzzing, or roaring noise in the ear or the head. This consequential electrical noise is called tinnitus.

Hyperacusis: More than 50% of the people who suffer from tinnitus are prone to develop high sensitivity to normal environmental sounds too. This condition is referred to as Hyperacusis.

Hearing Loss: As mentioned above, loud music or long exposure tends to make the hair cells bend down too much and severely, the extent of which can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss.

Dizziness: Many times, the increased pressure in the ear canal due to loud noise can also result in dizziness.

Ear infections: Since the earphones are directly placed into the ear canal, they block the passage of air which enhances the chances of infections in the ear. The regular and long-term use of earphones also increases the growth of bacteria. These bacteria stay on the earphones and on more usage infect the ear. When the earphones are shared, the same bacteria from one persons ear transfer to the other person, exposing the person also to serious ear infections.

One can save the ear from any severe damage through the earphones by being aware of the consequences and by making small habitual changes.

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Can Ear Infections Cause Hearing Loss

Hearing loss may occur due to injury, aging, noise exposure, and/or heredity. But can ear infections also contribute to hearing loss? That is not a simple question to answer!

Most middle ear infections are caused by either bacteria or viruses. A common cold, the flu, or allergy symptoms that cause congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, throat, and eustachian tubes can sometimes lead to an infection. Anything that makes the nose stuffy has a tendency to cause swelling and blockage of the eustachian tubes. Swelling from colds or allergies can keep the eustachian tubes from opening and this leads to pressure changes and the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear. This pressure and fluid will cause pain and sometimes persistent fluid can lead to an infection, or even temporary hearing loss.

When hearing loss occurs as the result of an ear infection, it is referred to as conductive hearing loss. It happens when an obstruction appears in the middle ear, not allowing sounds to stimulate the auditory nerve. Conductive hearing loss affects the outer or middle ear, rather than the auditory nerve. Since the auditory nerve is unaffected, this hearing loss is often temporary and hearing returns after treatment is completed. Treatment may include antibiotics or even tubes within the ear if the patient has a history of ear infections.

Home Remedies For An Ear Infection

Reversing Hearing Loss Caused by Ear Infection AMITA Health

If you or your child has a typical ear infection without severe symptoms, you might try some of these home remedies:

  • Pain relievers. A dose of over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can reduce the pain and fever.
  • Compresses. Whether you prefer a warm compress or an ice pack, this method is safe for children and adults. You can even alternate them if doing so helps you feel better.
  • A change in sleeping position. Try putting extra pillows under your head to help your ear drain when you go to sleep at night.
  • Distraction. If your child is really fussy, try a distraction technique to take their mind off their painful ear. A favorite toy, snack, or game might do the trick.

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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.

How Noisy Is Too Noisy

Prolonged and repeated exposure to loud noise whether at work in a factory or even just listening to loud music can damage your hearing. In fact, listening to any sound at a high volume , for more than five hours a week can damage hearing permanently over time.

Unfortunately damage builds up gradually, and the effects may not be noticed until years later.

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What To Do About Chronic Ear Infections

For chronic middle ear infections, especially in children, ear tube surgery may be necessary. An otolaryngologist will make a small incision in the eardrum and place a small tube that connects to the middle ear cavity and allows it to drain. This minor surgery is usually only performed on children who have severe ear infections and accompanying hearing loss.

In cases where chronic ear infections are associated with infections of the adenoids or tonsils, an otolaryngologist may recommend adenoidectomy or tonsillectomy, which are surgical procedures to remove the glands. Removing these glands will prevent future spreads of infection to the Eustachian tubes and middle ear and decrease the frequency of ear infections.

What Are The Complications Of Swimmers Ear

Does Ear Infection Cause Hearing Loss? Treament and ...

If left untreated, swimmers ear may cause other problems such as:

  • Hearing loss from a swollen and inflamed ear canal. Hearing usually returns to normal when the infection clears up.
  • Ear infections that keep coming back
  • Bone and cartilage damage
  • Infection spreading to nearby tissue, the skull, brain, or the nerves that start directly in the brain

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The Link To Hearing Loss

Middle ear infections can affect your child’s hearing. This can be unsettling, but it’s almost always temporary and doesn’t result in any permanent hearing loss. Still, any hearing loss should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Addressing hearing loss is important because infants and toddlers who suffer from chronic ear infections experience stretches of mild hearing loss during a crucial learning period for speech and language.

Southern Cross Medical Library

The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.

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Ear Infection Home Treatments And Remedies

Ear infections can occur in the outer ear , middle ear , and inner ear . Natural and home remedies to treat pain include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen
  • Applying a warm compress on the infected ear.
  • Applying naturopathic ear drops with ginger, tea tree, or olive oil may help with pain and inflammation.

Talk with your doctor or pediatrician before using any herbal or naturopathic medicine for ear infections.

Why Does It Feel Like Water In My Ear

Ear infection in children: Causes of Hearing loss – Dr. Sheelu Srinivas

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If you have the feeling like water in your ear, it could actually be water or plugged ears. As already discussed, you can easily conclude that it is actually water that has gotten into or has been stuck in your ears especially if you feel that way after swimming, taking a shower or bath, after diving, etc.

However, if you are hearing water in the ear accompanied with ringing or crackling sound and it often happens when you wake up, nothing comes out when you try the above removal method it could be plugged ears. This problem can stay for weeks or months and at times you will always or constantly have this feeling of water in your ears.

Another common symptom of plugged or clogged ears is the loss of hearing i.e. muffling of sound. This happens when the eustachian tube becomes blocked/clogged and/or the ear canal gets clogged with earwax. Furthermore, too much earwax might touch the eardrum hampering the normal hearing process and creating the sensation of water behind the ear.

To some people, the feeling might hurt . However, in most cases, it doesnt hurt. Other common symptoms include your ears feeling like underwater, dizziness, etc.

We have already looked at plugged ears symptoms, causes that include allergies, swimmers ear, cold, sinus infection, after taking a flight, etc., how to clear clogged ears as well as home remedies and treatments worthwhile trying. See more on clogged ears to know what to do.

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Which Is The Best Treatment For Plugged Ears

The best treatment for chronically plugged ears is inserting ear tubes via a myringotomy procedure. Myringotomy and tympanostomy tube placement is a common procedure done under anesthesia in which a tiny hole is made in the eardrum and synthetic tubes are placed in the auditory tube to hold it open.

What To Do If You Think You Have Hearing Loss

If you have trouble hearing, it is important to have your hearing tested by a hearing professional, so the degree and type of hearing loss can be identified. Your hearing professional will identify the type of hearing loss you have and discuss the best treatment option with you following your hearing evaluation. to find a hearing professional near you.

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What Causes Hearing Loss After Ear Infection

In cases of an ear infection, the inflammation blocks the sound from passing through the ear canal from the middle ear into the inner ear. In this case, this hearing loss is known as a conductive hearing loss. The sounds are often heard as indistinctive and muffed. The probability of an ear infection to cause hearing loss will depend on the severity, frequency, and type of the ear infection.

The ear infection can affect all the three parts of the ear: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.

1. Otitis Externa

Otitis externa is an infection of the outer ear canal. In cases when the infection and inflammation of the outer ear occur, the swelling and the buildup of pus will stop the sounds from moving from the outer ear to the middle ear, resulting in hearing problems. Once the infection is treated or once the wax is cleared, the hearing will usually return to normality.

2. Otitis Media

Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear. Once the infection of the middle ear is treated, the hearing will return to normality. However, if the infection is not diagnosed and treated on time, the swelling and the collection of pus can lead to permanent and irreversible damage of the middle ear structures. If the infection of the middle ear persists, antibiotic treatment is necessary.

3. Viral Infection of the Cochlea

Note: You can never predict a hearing loss after ear infection, so diagnosis and treatment on time are very important.

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