What Causes Hearing Impairment
The most common cause of conductive hearing loss in kids and teens is otitis media, which is the medical term for an ear infection that affects the middle ear. Ear infections cause a buildup of fluid or pus behind the eardrum, which can block the transmission of sound. Even after the infection gets better, fluid might stay in the middle ear for weeks or even months, causing difficulty hearing.
But this fluid is usually temporary, and whether it goes away on its own or with the help of medications, once it’s gone a person’s hearing typically returns to normal. Blockages in the ear, such as a foreign object, impacted earwax or dirt, or fluid due to colds and allergies, can also cause conductive hearing loss.
People also get conductive hearing loss when key parts of the ear the eardrum, ear canal, or ossicles are damaged. For example, a tear or hole in the eardrum can interfere with its ability to vibrate properly. Causes of this damage may include inserting an object such as a cotton swab too far into the ear, a sudden explosion or other loud noise, a sudden change in air pressure, a head injury, or repeated ear infections.
Sensorineural hearing impairment results from problems with or damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve. Its causes include:
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.
About Middle Ear Infections
Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear that causes inflammation and a build-up of fluid behind the eardrum.
Anyone can develop a middle ear infection but infants between six and 15 months old are most commonly affected.
Its estimated that around one in every four children experience at least one middle ear infection by the time theyre 10 years old.
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Can This Permanent Hearing Loss Be Prevented
If you believe that you might have an ear infection, see a doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you get treatment, the better. Always have chronic ear infection checked out by a doctor. The more serious the infections you have, the more damage they cause. Ear infections typically begin with allergies, sinus infections, and colds so take steps to avoid them. Its time to stop smoking because it causes chronic respiratory issues which can, in turn, lead to ear infections.
If youve had an ear infection and are still having trouble hearing, call your doctor. It is possible you have some damage, but that is not the only thing that can cause conductive hearing loss. Hearing aids are very helpful if you have permanent hearing loss. To get more info about hearing aids, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.
Recurrent Or Chronic Ear Infections
For recurrent middle ear infections and lingering middle ear fluid that causes temporary hearing loss, an otolaryngologist may recommend a minor surgical procedure known as ear tube surgery, to insert a tubes into the eardrums.
This is usually an outpatient procedure. A doctor will typically make a small incision in the eardrum and place a small tube. The tube, also called a pressure equalization tube, aerates the middle ear space through the ear canal to allow any trapped fluids to dissipate. This procedure has become less common in recent years, reserved for children who are having trouble hearing as a result of recurring middle ear infections.
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Exposure To Loud Noise
Extremely loud noiseslike the kind found at the front-row of a concert, or at the shooting range can cause temporary hearing loss.
How does this happen? Deep inside our inner ears, tiny hair cells detect sound waves and transmit these signals to the brain. These hair cells can be damaged by noise. It usually affects both ears, but can be more severe on the side that received more noise . It doesn’t generally cause pain. When the hearing loss is permanent, this is known as noise-induced hearing loss.
Treating loud noise exposure or ‘concert deafness’
Concert deafness is a bad signyour ears have been damaged. If this sounds like what has happened to you, rest your ears as soon as you can. Do not expose yourself to more loud sounds if at all possible.
While your hearing will likely recover in the short-term, you may have caused some long-term damage to the delicate hair cells in your ears. If your hearing doesn’t get better within a day or so, seek medical help.
And don’t forget that the next time you find yourself in a loud setting, you must protect your hearing from further damage by wearing ear protection. If you know youll be attending a loud concert or fireworks display, wear earplugs or earmuffs. If your hobbies include using loud equipment such as live music, motorcycles, snowmobiles or firearms, always wear protective hearing gear.
How Long Does Hearing Loss Last In Adults
There are two main types of auditory loss, conductive impairment and sensorineural auditory loss. Conductive loss is often temporary. When the blockage is treated, the impairment usually goes away. Ear infections are typically easily treated with antibiotics. Recurrent ear infections may need further treatment. A doctor can insert a tube in the eardrum to keep the fluid from building up, known as a Eustachian tube. If your hearing doesnt get back to normal after treatment, you should discuss this with your doctor and an auditory professional.
Ear infections can also cause pressure to build up in the ear, which can cause the eardrum to rupture. Left untreated, this can cause damage to the eardrum which can reduce acuity. The tympanic membrane, which is another part of the ear that vibrates in response to sound, can also be scarred from chronic, recurrent ear infections. This, too, can affect hearing.
The second type of loss, sensorineural, occurs when there is damage to the auditory nerve or inner ear. The most common cause of this type of impairment is age-related, known as presbycusis. Sensorineural loss that is age-related is generally permanent, but the impairment can be mitigated with devices. When sensorineural loss occurs suddenly, within three days or less, a medical provider should be contacted immediately.
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What Is An Ear Infection
The commonly used term ear infection is known medically as acute otitis media or a sudden infection in the middle ear. Anyone can get an ear infection children as well as adults although ear infections are one of the most common reasons why young children visit healthcare providers.
In many cases, ear infections clear up on their own. Your healthcare provider may recommend a medication to relieve pain. If the ear infection has worsened or not improved, your healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic. In children younger than the age of two years, an antibiotic is usually needed for ear infections.
Its important to see your healthcare provider to make sure the ear infection has healed or if you or your child has ongoing pain or discomfort. Hearing problems and other serious effects can occur with ongoing ear infections, frequent infections and when fluid builds up behind the eardrum.
When To Get Medical Help
A GP can help if you think youre losing your hearing.
- if you or your child suddenly lose hearing , call a GP or NHS 111 as soon as possible
- if you think your or your childs hearing is getting gradually worse, make an appointment to see a GP
- if youre concerned about a friends or family members hearing, encourage them to see a GP
The GP will ask about your symptoms and look inside your ears using a small handheld torch with a magnifying lens. They can also do some simple checks of your hearing.
If needed, they can refer you to a specialist for more hearing tests.
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How Are Ear Infections Treated
Treating a middle ear infection usually involves two steps: Treating the pain, and then, if symptoms dont improve, prescribing antibiotic medication to fight the infection. Doctors sometimes wait to prescribe antibiotics because an otherwise healthy child may be able to fight the infection on their own, helping a child avoid side effects and other risks of antibiotics.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends focusing on pain management for the first 1 to 2 days before prescribing antibiotics. Over-the-counter ibuprofen and acetaminophen are recommended for pain relief, and occasionally ear drops that contain pain medicine.
Doctors sometimes wait to prescribe antibiotics, because the infection may clear up on its own.
If a doctor prescribes antibiotics to treat a middle ear infection, it is usually amoxicillin. This oral antibiotic works to destroy the infection. Over time, inflammation will get better, and the Eustachian tubes can properly ventilate the middle ear.
Until the backed-up fluids have cleared, your child is prone to recurrent infections. It is important to take the entire course of prescribed antibioticseven though the symptoms may have subsided. Older children may report being able to hear better several days after they have resumed normal activities. This is a sign that the fluid build-up has resolved.
Can Antibiotics Clear Up Fluid In The Ear
Antibiotics cant treat fluid buildup if theres no active infection. An antibiotic may be prescribed for an active ear infection once your doctor has examined your ear and has determined you exhibit signs and symptoms of AOM or swimmers ear. Frequent or recurring ear infections should also be addressed with a doctor.
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Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Potentially Reversible
This happens when you lose all or part of your hearing all at once or over a few days. About half of people with the condition regain their hearing on their own, but sometimes it doesnt come back completely. It usually gets better in a week or two.
It is critical to see an ear, nose and throat specialist when this happens so treatment can begin right away. This type of hearing loss can be treated with corticosteroid pills or shots.
Talk With Your Doctor To Improve Your Hearing
They may be able to reverse the problem or keep it from getting worse.
They may refer you to a specialist, such as:
- An audiologist, who specializes in hearing loss treatment and testing
- An ear, nose, and throat doctor, also called an otorhinolaryngologist
- A hearing aid expert who does tests and fits the devices
Otitis Media Exactly What Is It
Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear to put it simply. Bacteria is the most common cause, but it could be caused by any type of micro-organism.
The main way an infection is defined is by what part of the ear it occurs in. The outer ear, which is called the pinna, is the part of the ear where swimmers ear happens, which is called otitis externa. The term labyrinthitis refers to an infection of the cochlea or inner ear.
The space behind the eardrum but in front of the cochlea is called the middle ear. This area houses the three ossicles, or tiny bones, that vibrate the membranes of the inner ear. An infection in this area tends to be very painful because it puts pressure on the eardrum, usually until it actually breaks. That pressure is also why you dont hear very well. The infectious material accumulates and blocks the ear canal enough to hinder the movement of sound waves.
The symptoms of a middle ear infection in an adult include:
- Leakage from the ear
- Pain in the ear
- Diminished hearing
Usually, hearing will come back in the course of time. Hearing will come back after the pressure dissipates permitting the ear canal to open up. The issue will only be resolved when the infection gets better. Sometimes there are complications, however.
Reversible Hearing Loss From Ear Infections: Possible To Regain Hearing
Ear Infections can cause mild hearing loss, which feels as if when one is wearing ear plugs. Ear infection occurs from trapped fluid in the middle ear, which makes a good breeding ground for bacteria. Viral ear infections can also cause hearing loss. It is very much possible to regain hearing which has been lost due to ear infection.
Topical antibiotics help in clearing away the ear infection after which one can regain normal hearing. Ear tubes are placed commonly in childrens ears who frequently suffer from these types of ear infections and they help in keeping the middle ear open.
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Sudden Hearing Loss: Usually Reversible
This happens when you lose all or part of your hearing all at once or over several days. About half of people with the condition regain their hearing on their own. It usually gets better in a week or two.
It can be treated with corticosteroid pills or shots. Read more about the different sudden hearing loss treatment options.
What Are The Symptoms Of An Ear Infection
Ear infections can be uncomfortable and painful. If you have pain and pressure in your ear, you might suspect that you have one.
But babies and toddlers usually dont have the words yet to tell you that they have ear pain. So, how do you know if your child has an ear infection?
Common signs that may be an indication of an ear infection in young children include:
- Body language. Watch out for your baby or toddler pulling on their ear. This could be an indication of ear pain.
- Fever. A fever is a sign that the body is trying to fight off an infection.
- Fussiness or irritability. Is your child cranky and irritable for no other reason? Are they crying more than usual, too?
- Ear drainage. Pus or fluid draining out the ear is a common sign of an ear infection. The fluid may be yellow or bloody, which signifies a ruptured eardrum.
- Trouble hearing. When fluid builds up in the middle ear, it can create temporary hearing loss.
- Unsteadiness. The fluid in the ear can also upset your childs sense of balance, leading to unsteadiness or even dizziness.
- Inability to lie down comfortably. Lying down can cause an uncomfortable shift in pressure within the middle ear.
- Diarrhea. A child with an ear infection may sometimes experience some diarrhea or vomiting.
Many of these symptoms are also signs of an ear infection in older children and adults.
In general, the most common causes of hearing loss include:
- large quantities of aspirin
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Can I Prevent Hearing Impairment
Many cases of hearing loss or deafness are not preventable however, hearing loss caused by loud noise can be prevented, and prevention efforts can start at any age . There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of this type of hearing loss.
The intensity of sound is measured in units called , and any sounds over 80 decibels are considered hazardous with prolonged exposure. These include things like loud music, sirens and engines, and power tools such as jackhammers and leaf blowers.
To reduce the risk of permanent hearing damage, you can:
- Turn down the volume on your stereo, TV, and especially the headset on your music player.
- Wear earplugs if you’re going to a loud concert or other event . Special protective earmuffs are a good idea if you operate a lawn mower or leaf or snow blower, or at a particularly loud event, like a car race. If you feel your hearing is different after being at an event with a lot of noise , it means you’re probably experiencing a temporary hearing loss due to noise. Don’t worry, it will go away , but it means that next time you want to participate in the same event, you should wear protection for your ears to avoid a permanent hearing loss.
- See your doctor right away if you suspect any problems with your hearing, and get your hearing tested on a regular basis.
Get Help With Your Hearing Loss
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We provide expert diagnostic hearing tests, tinnitus treatments, VNG and APD testing and a wide range of hearing aid products. Well make sure youre getting the hearing aid solution thats right for you. With over 20 years experience, you can have confidence in our services. We accept most insurance providers and will work with the VA for Veterans under the Community Care program. So give us a call today to restore the wonderful sounds all around you and live your best life!
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Tympanoplasty: Planned Second Stage
The surgery is intended to accomplish two goals: ensure that all the infection or cholesteatoma has been removed and to improve the hearing. It is occasionally accomplished through the ear canal, but more often than not it is done through an incision behind the ear. The ear is inspected carefully for any residual disease and a titanium prothesis is positioned to transmit sound waves from the reconstructed ear drum to the inner ear.
The patient goes home the day of surgery and may return to work in 3-7 days. The ear is packed and the patient places ear drops on the packing starting 3 weeks after surgery. Healing is usually complete in 6 weeks, and the hearing may continue to improve for 2-3 months.