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.
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.
Degrees Of Hearing Impairment
To find out how impaired your hearing is, your doctor may order a formal hearing test also known as an audiogram. It can show the degree of your hearing loss by looking at the range of decibels — a measure of loudness — you can hear.
- Normal hearing is in the range of 0 to 20 decibels. People with normal hearing are able to make out sounds as faint as human breathing, which measures about 10 decibels.
- Mild hearing loss ranges from 21 to 40 decibels.
- Moderate hearing loss ranges from 41 to 55 decibels.
- Moderately severe hearing loss ranges from 56 to 70 decibels.
- Severe hearing loss is in the range of 71 to 90 decibels.
- Profound hearing loss is greater than 90 decibels. People with severe to profound hearing loss will have trouble hearing speech, although they can make out loud sounds like a truck that backfires or an airplane taking off.
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Can Ear Infections Cause Permanent Damage To Your Hearing
Most of us will have an ear infection at some point in our lives. We generally see them as a nuisance. Theyre painful in fact, they can be extremely painful indeed but thankfully short lived. Milder cases will clear up on their own others may require intervention via antibiotics. However, its usually a week long problem that we tend to forget about as soon as its resolved.
However, ear infections and especially repeat ear infections should be treated with a little more caution than this. First, lets define what an ear infection actually is.
There are two types of ear infections:
Otitis Externa An infection of the outer ear and the surrounding shell. This is often referred to as swimmers ear and is generally on the milder end of the spectrum.
Otitis Media In this case, the infection is deeper in the ear and can potentially perforate the eardrum. Otitis media is often more painful, and tends to be characterized by this pain and a significant level of discharge from the ear.
While otitis externa is an unpleasant experience, when it comes to complications, this is for want of a better phrase, the better infection. Otitis media, on the other hand, can have long-ranging complications that could lead to permanent hearing loss.
Wait What? An Ear Infection Could Cause You To Lose Your Hearing?
Why Does This Happen?
What If Ive Ignored Infections In The Past?
So Always Take Antibiotics For An Ear Infection?
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.
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Joy Victory Managing Editor Healthy Hearing
Joy Victory has extensive experience editing consumer health information. Her training in particular has focused on how to best communicate evidence-based medical guidelines and clinical trial results to the public. She strives to make health content accurate, accessible and engaging to the public.Read more about Joy.
Whistling Sound When Blowing Nose
A ruptured eardrum may cause a whistling sound when the patient blows their nose. In general, blowing the nose with a ruptured eardrum is not recommended. Doing so increases the pressure inside the ear, which can be very painful. It may slow down the rate at which the rupture heals, ultimately delaying recovery. Instead of blowing the nose, doctors suggest that patients with a ruptured eardrum clear their nose by exhaling gently through one nostril at a time to prevent alterations of the pressure inside the ears. Patients may wish to consult their physician about other remedies for nasal congestion that are safe to use with a ruptured eardrum. If a whistling sound when blowing the nose occurs, the patient should see an ear, nose, and throat specialist. The specialist can perform an otoscope exam and other tests to check whether the patients eardrum is continuing to heal as it should, and they may be able to recommend steps to increase the speed of the patients recovery.
Learn more about the warning signs of a ruptured eardrum now.
4.1/5hearing lossabout it here
It takes several weeks for a ruptured eardrum to heal. Most people will not lose all of their hearing, however, rarely, hearing loss may occur in the damaged ear. While the ruptured eardrum is healing, you should not go swimming or participate in certain physical activities.
Likewise, can you hear with a perforated eardrum?
What should you not do with a ruptured eardrum?
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Integrated Ear Nose And Throat Of Lone Tree Colorado
Chronic ear infections refer to both an ear infection that does not heal or to recurring ear infections. A chronic ear infection affects the middle ear and develops when fluid or an infection behind the eardrum does not go away.
Otitis Media refers to inflammation of the middle ear. When an abrupt infection occurs, the condition is called acute otitis media. This condition occurs when a cold, allergy, virus, or the presence of bacteria leads to the accumulation of pus and mucus behind the eardrum, thus 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 condition 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.
Children Have More Ear Infections Than Adults
To understand earaches and ear infections, you must first know about the Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube is 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, preventing fluid from building up and bursting the thin eardrum. In a healthy ear, the fluid drains down the tube, assisted by tiny hair cells, and is swallowed.
Otitis Media Affects Hearing
Types of Hearing Loss
Reasons for Hearing Loss
Fluid Drainage From The Ear
A ruptured eardrum may be accompanied by bleeding or fluid drainage from the ear. The fluid may appear clear, tinged with blood, or contain pus. This effect generally occurs when an ear infection has caused the rupture, or the fluid may indicate an injury in the deeper recesses of the ear. Doctors may take a sample of the fluid draining from the patients ear to determine if an infection is causing the ear problem and what type of pathogen it is so the appropriate treatment can begin. Although bleeding or fluid drainage from the ear may be upsetting, it does not generally mean a serious problem has occurred inside the ear canal.
Get the details on more ruptured eardrum signs now.
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Causes Of A Perforated Ear Drum
The most likely cause of a perforation is an earinfection. During an ear infectionfluid builds up in the outer and middle ear which then puts pressureon the ear drum. As more and more fluid appears this stresses the eardrum to the extent that it rips or splits.
A lesser known cause is that of a foreignbody. Children especially enjoy exploring areas of their body whichusually involves the insertion of an object or two. The most popularplaces for this are the nose and ears. So if you are a parent of a youngchild then dont be surprised if you find a small toy or householdobject in there!This isnt usually a problem as they either remove this object themselvesor the object in question makes its own way out.
But in a few cases the object has beenpushed that far down into the ear that it requires medical interventionto remove it.
This is discussed in more detail inour foreignbody in the ear section.This can happen with adults as well. A common scenario is that wheresomeone uses a cotton wool bud or a hair pin to clean out wax from theirear but this then forces the wax deeper into the ear. Or the excessiveforce punctures the ear drum.
Exposure to extremely loud noises suchas an explosion can also damage the ear drum. But this tends to be rare.
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Will I Get My Hearing Back After An Ear Infection
Otitis media is the medical name for what you probably call an ear infection. Ear infections like this are often seen in babies and young children but they can affect adults, as well, especially during or after a cold or sinus infection. Even a bad tooth can lead to an ear infection.
Hearing loss is one of the primary symptoms of an infection in the middle ear, but is it permanent? The answer to this question might be more complicated than you think. There are a lot of things going on with ear infections. To understand the risks, you need to know more about the damage these infections can cause and how they affect hearing.
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Can You Get Burned By An Airbag
When the airbags deflate, these substances can cause a thermal or alkali burn, complicating the friction burns directly related to contact with the rapidly expanding airbag. Other authors have noted that airbag deployment can cause burns, usually of second degree and located in the upper extremities, trunk, and face.
Can Untreated Ear Infections Lead To Permanent Hearing Loss
Whenever you notice the symptoms of an ear infection lasting for more than a couple of days, its best to check with your physician. Since ear infection symptoms can indicate other conditions, its best to ensure that an ear infection is a correct diagnosis. More severe ear infections may require the use of antibiotics for successful treatment.
Its important to note that the majority of ear infections dont cause any long-term complications. Sufferers may experience mild hearing loss while they have an infection due to fluid buildup in the ear. However, once the infection goes away, their hearing goes back to normal.
However, when a person experiences multiple ear infections, its a warning sign of potential long-term impairment. Infections that are not closely watched by a medical professional could damage the sensitive bones inside the middle ear. These are tiny and delicate bones that cant be replaced once they are destroyed by bacteria.
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Can This Permanent Damage Be Avoided
Most importantly, see a doctor if you believe that you have an ear infection. The sooner you get treatment, the better. Always have chronic ear infection checked out by a doctor. More damage is caused by more serious infections. Ear infections usually begin with allergies, sinus infections, and colds so take measures to prevent them. Its time to give up smoking because it causes chronic respiratory problems which will, in turn, lead to ear infections.
If youve had an ear infection and are still having difficulties hearing, see your doctor. Other things can cause conductive hearing loss, but it may be possible that you may have some damage. If it turns out its permanent, hearing aids will help you hear again. You should schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to get more info about hearing aids.
Conductive Hearing Loss From Ear Infections
Chronic ear infections can cause conductive hearing loss. When this happens the inner ear doesnt get sound waves at the proper strength. The ear has mechanisms along the canal which amplify the sound wave so that when it reaches the tiny hair cells of the inner ear, it is intense enough to create a vibration. Sometimes something changes along this route and the sound is not effectively amplified. This is known as conductive hearing loss.
Bacteria dont just sit and do nothing in the ear when you have an ear infection. They must eat to survive, so they break down those components that amplify sound waves. Usually, this type of damage includes the eardrum and the tiny little bones. The bones are very fragile and it doesnt take much to break them up. If you lose these bones they dont grow back. You dont just get your hearing back once this damage happens. In certain cases, surgeons can install prosthetic bones to repair hearing. The eardrum can restore itself but it will probably have scar tissue affecting its ability to move. This can also potentially be repaired with surgery.
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How Can Noise Damage Our Hearing
To understand how loud noises can damage our hearing, we have to understand how we hear. Hearing depends on a series of events that change sound waves in the air into electrical signals. Our auditory nerve then carries these signals to the brain through a complex series of steps.
Stereocilia perch atop sensory hair cells in the inner ear.
: Yoshiyuki Kawashima
What Is An Ear Infection
An ear infection is one of the most common conditions among children. It is caused by a viral or bacterial infection. These infections create pressure in the Eustachian tube that connects the throat to the middle ear. This pressure causes the ear pain.
A chronic ear infection can last for 6 weeks or more, but most infections are viral and go away on their own after 3 days without needing to see a doctor. Children are more likely to get an ear infection when theyre exposed to illness from other kids, especially during the winter months. Babies who drink from a bottle while lying down are likely to get the infections, too.
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How Can A Ruptured Eardrum Be Prevented
- One of the first ways to prevent a ruptured eardrum is to get treatment for middle ear infections as soon as they develop.
- If you are flying, you should try to keep your ears clear by equalizing pressure using such techniques as yawning, chewing gum or gently attempting to blow your nose while pinching your nostrils and keeping your mouth closed.
- Keep small items that children may use to put in their ears out of their reach. Moreover, if the child is old enough, you can teach them about the damage that can be done by putting items in their ears.
- Adults should never attempt to dig out excessive earwax with cotton swabs, paperclips, hairpins and/or other objects that can easily rupture an eardrum.
- Noise at high levels and sharp changes in atmospheric pressure should be avoided by using protective earplugs or earmuffs.
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