Hearing complications as a result of an ear infection are more commonly noticed and treated among children, but they also occur in adults. If you think there is an ear infection and you are concerned about whether it may cause hearing loss, here is an explanation of the relationship between the two conditions.
A chronic ear infection is a fluid, inflammation, or any infection behind the eardrum that either does not go away or keeps coming back. Recurring infections generally lead to a hole in the eardrum, the hearing nerve, or the bones of the middle ear. When this does not heal, it might cause long-term or permanent damage to the ear.
Chronic ear infections are caused by a repeated ear infection or an acute ear infection that doesn’t go away. Children are more expected to experience ear infections than adults. This happens due to specific reasons. Children’s immune systems may be underdeveloped, their ears are more delicate than adults and the eustachian tubes, which run from the middle of each ear to the back of the throat, are thinner and smaller than in adults. This makes it harder for all the fluids to drain out. Yet, regardless of age, you might experience hearing loss when fluid and inflammation develop in the middle ear. When the fluid builds up in the inner ear, all the tiny bones and eardrums attached to it will not be able to move freely. This means they cannot effectively transmit sound because the movement of the eardrum and its surrounding bones is slowed down.
Symptoms of chronic ear infections may be temporary, or they might be persistent. They can occur in one or both ears and they include:
Ear discomfort or pain
A feeling of pressure in the ear
Discharge coming out of the ear
Irritation and itching in the ear
Lack of energy
Fussiness or irritability in infants
Otitis media is identified as inflammation of the middle ear.
In an ear infection, mucus builds up in the middle ear. This mucus usually becomes infected and might cause infection symptoms. This can cause hearing problems and other serious complications, one of which conductive hearing loss.
Hearing loss has various causes. An ear infection is just one of them. Hearing loss caused by damage to the middle ear can slow speech development and language. It affects your understanding of background noise or speech. Localizing the source of sounds will be a difficult task. Both the emotional and intellectual development of the individual will be negatively affected. It could lead to social isolation.
The good news though is that most of the hearing loss cases that are caused by ear infections are temporary. Once the infection is treated, the fluid can drain out naturally or with the help of the audiologist.
In some cases, hearing loss caused by a particular ear infection might not go away, leading to eardrum rupture. A part of the middle ear may be thickened and wounded because of the recurrent ear infections happening in the ear. In this case, the audiologist will recommend a hearing aid that will treat this hearing loss.
If you are experiencing any of the above ear infection symptoms, you should contact your audiologist immediately. Visiting them will provide you with a quick diagnosis and the right recommendation for treatment!