Symptoms Of A Middle Ear Infection
In most cases, the symptoms of a middle ear infection develop quickly and resolve in a few days. This is known as acute otitis media. The main symptoms include:
- a lack of energy
- slight hearing loss if the middle ear becomes filled with fluid
In some cases, a hole may develop in the eardrum and pus may run out of the ear. The earache, which is caused by the build-up of fluid stretching the eardrum, then resolves.
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What Are Ear Tubes
Ear tubes are recommended when an individual suffers repeated ear infections of the middle ear, loses hearing due to fluid in the middle ear, or is off-balance due to fluid in the middle ear. When in place, ear tubes are effective at holding open an incision in the eardrum, allowing drainage of the affected middle ears and preventing the accumulation of fluid and infection in the middle ear space. This helps reduce the risk for ear infection in the future, restores hearing, improves balance, resolves speech problems, and improves sleep and behavior issues brought on by chronic ear infections.
While an occasional viral ear infection will resolve without treatment and bacterial infections are often treated and cured with antibiotics, ear infections arent always easy to overcome. When the infections continue to arise time and again, more aggressive action must be taken in order to prevent an array of potential health and hearing problems. In many cases, that action is placing ear tubes in the ears of the affected individual.
Why Consider Ear Tubes
Reasons a child or adult may need ear tubes include the following:
Frequent middle ear infection. Beneath the eardrum, there is an open area that is home to tiny vibrating ear bones. When a bacterial or viral infection settles in there, the result is sudden inflammation and pain.
Hearing loss related to middle ear fluid. Frequent middle ear infections, allergies and other conditions can cause fluid to form and stay in the middle ear for a prolonged period. Eventually, this fluid can result in hearing loss.
Dizziness related to middle ear fluid. Fluid in the ear can cause dizziness and is a readily treatable cause of dizziness. In young children, this dizziness may appear as lack of coordination.
Tinnitus related to middle ear fluid. Fluid in the ear can cause tinnitus, or extra sounds in the ears. This can sound like your pulse, or like ringing or a seashell. This is a treatable cause of tinnitus.
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Can An Ear Infection Cause Hearing Loss
If you notice sounds seem muffled or distorted, you may be searching for a reason as to why. According to UnityPoint Health, ear infections account for more than 30 million trips to the doctor every year in the United States. Ear infections can cause hearing lossâbut in most cases, itâs temporary. Letâs explore this more.
Signs Of Hearing Loss
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 TV with the volume higher than other people need
- difficulty hearing on the phone
- finding it hard to keep up with a conversation
- feeling tired or stressed from having to concentrate while listening
Sometimes someone else might notice problems with your hearing before you do.
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Hearing Aids And Implants
If you have permanent hearing loss, a specialist will often recommend hearing aids. These will not make your hearing perfect, but they make sounds louder and clearer.
Some people may need a hearing implant. These are devices that are attached to your skull or placed deep inside your ear.
Otitis Media What Is It
Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear basically. Bacteria is the most prevalent cause, but it could be caused by any micro-organism.
Its what part of the ear the infection occurs in that defines it. The outer ear, which is called the pinna, is the part of the ear where swimmers ear happens, which is called otitis externa. If the bacterial growth occurs in the cochlea, the term is labyrinthitis or inner ear infection.
The area behind the eardrum but in front of the cochlea is known as the middle ear. The three little bones in this area, known as ossicles, are responsible for vibrating the membranes of the inner ear. The eardrum will often actually break as a result of the pressure from this kind of infection, which is likely to be quite painful. This pressure is not only very painful, it causes a loss of hearing. Sound waves are then obstructed by the buildup of infectious material inside the ear canal.
A middle ear infection has the following symptoms:
- Pain in the ear
- Reduced ability to hear
For the majority of people, hearing returns in time. The ear canal will then open up and hearing will return. The infection gets resolved and your hearing returns. Sometimes there are complications, however.
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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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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.
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Treatments For Hearing Loss
Hearing loss sometimes gets better on its own, or may be treated with medicine or a simple procedure. For example, earwax can be sucked out, or softened with eardrops.
But other types such as gradual hearing loss, which often happens as you get older may be permanent. In these cases, treatment can help make the most of the remaining hearing. This may involve using:
- hearing aids several different types are available on the NHS or privately
- implants devices that are attached to your skull or placed deep inside your ear, if hearing aids are not suitable
- different ways of communicating such as sign language or lip reading
The Link To Hearing Loss
Many different ear infections can affect hearing in one or both ears. This can be unsettling, but it’s almost always temporary, mild, and doesn’t result in any permanent hearing loss. Still, any hearing loss, especially in kids, should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Addressing hearing loss is important because infants and toddlers who suffer from recurrent ear infections or chronic fluid in the ear following infection experience stretches of hearing loss during a crucial learning period for speech and language.
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Recurring Ear Infections And Long
Recurring ear infections can cause something called tympanosclerosisthe fancy medical term for scar tissue and calcium deposits left in your middle ear or on the eardrum. This can cause conductive hearing loss, which may not go away completely without treatment or hearing assistive devices. Depending on the extent and type of tympanosclerosis, further medical treatment, surgery, or hearing aids may be required to get your hearing back.
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 To Expect With Ear Tube Placement
Prior to receiving ear tubes, the affected individual undergoes tests to ensure the tubes will effectively treat his or her symptoms. Should the individual no longer respond properly to antibiotics or be at risk for hearing loss due to chronic ear infections, ear tubes are a good option. Tubes are very efficient at draining fluid from the middle ear, and may be the only way to completely remove fluid that has been present in the middle ear for many months.
Installing ear tubes is a relatively simple procedure that normally takes less than half an hour. During the procedure, a small incision is made in the eardrum by the surgeon with a tiny scalpel. The surgeon then locates and removes any fluid residing in the inner ear using a suction device. Once the fluid is removed, the ear tube is inserted into the hole made by the surgeon.
How Does Chronic Otitis Media Occur
If the eustachian tube becomes blocked due to swelling or congestion in the nose, the middle ear cannot equalize pressure properly. Negative pressure then develops. If the eustachian tube blockage is prolonged, fluid or mucus can be drawn into the middle ear. As the blockage persists, the tissue in the middle ear begins to change. First, the mucus become thicker, and less likely to drain. Then the lining itself begins to thicken and become inflamed. The defense mechanisms of the eustachian tube and middle ear become compromised and bacteria normally present in the nose can track into the middle ear and otitis media.
The negative pressure in the middle ear or alternating periods of negative, normal, and positive pressure may deform the eardrum. Over time, the eardrum may become severely distorted, thinned, or even perforated. These changes may cause hearing loss and a sensation of pressure. When there is a hole in the eardrum, the natural protection of the middle ear from the environment is lost. Water and bacteria entering the middle ear from the ear canal can cause repeated inflammation and infection. Drainage from the ear is a common sign of a perforation.
Inflammation and infection in time can cause erosion of ear bones and the walls of the middle and inner ear. This can lead to hearing loss, imbalance, or weakness of facial movement. In rare cases, the infection may extend deeper into the head, causing meningitis or brain abscess.
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Conductive Hearing Loss Caused By Ear Infections
Ear infections can sometimes cause conductive hearing loss. When this occurs, the sound waves going to the inner ear are not loud enough. The ear has components along the canal which amplify the sound wave so that when it reaches the tiny hair cells of the inner ear, it is strong enough to cause a vibration. Sometimes things change along this route and the sound is not correctly amplified. This is known as conductive hearing loss.
Bacteria dont merely sit and behave themselves inside the ear when you get an ear infection. The components that amplify sound waves are decomposed and eaten by the bacteria. The eardrum and the tiny little bones are what is usually affected. It doesnt take very much to destroy these fragile bones. If you suffer a loss of these bones its permanent. 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 fix this. The eardrum can restore itself but it will probably have scar tissue impacting its ability to vibrate. This can also potentially be repaired with surgery.
How Is Swimmer’s Ear Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask about your past health and any symptoms you have now. He or she will give you a physical exam. Your provider will look into both of your ears.
Your provider may check your ears using a lighted tool . This will help to see if you also have an infection in your middle ear. Some people may have both types of infections.
If you have pus draining from your ear, your provider may take a sample of the pus for testing. This is called an ear drainage culture. A cotton swab is placed gently in your ear canal to get a sample. The sample is sent to a lab to find out what is causing the ear infection.
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Will Hearing Loss Return After An Ear Infection
March 1, 2022 By Hearing Associates of Las Vegas
Ear infections are a common affliction that affects millions of people worldwide every year. Ranging from mild to severe, ear infections affect everyone differently, sometimes resulting in symptoms even after the ear infection has left.
Children are often afflicted with ear infections, but sometimes adults may be affected. Some liquid may build up in the ear, blocking the passage of sounds into the eardrum and causing auditory loss. Hearing loss caused by an ear infection is termed conductive auditory impairment. The loss usually isnt permanent, but there are certain things can affect how long it lasts.
Conductive and sensorineural auditory loss are the two main kinds of auditory impairment. Conductive loss is an impairment that is temporary and is usually treated as soon as the obstruction is removed.
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.
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How Can An Audiologist Help With Hearing Loss After An Ear Infection
An audiologist can carry out an examination of your ear as well as perform a comprehensive hearing test.
They will advise if you need to see your GP for treatment for any current ear infection.
If a build-up of wax is causing your hearing loss, they will offer you a service to remove your ear wax using micro-suction. This mess-free procedure is the safest way to remove excess earwax.
If they determine that you have conductive hearing loss, they will advise you about hearing aid solutions, and they will be able to prescribe and fit hearing aids to suit you and your lifestyle.
Please book an appointment with one of our qualified audiologists for a hearing assessment or ear wax removal if you have any concerns about hearing loss following an ear infection. Please get in touch with us at Hearing Health Hub.
Acute Otitis Externa Or Swimmers Ear
Acute otitis externa or swimmerâs ear is caused by an infection, inflammation, or irritation of the ear canal. It can affect children and adults. This condition usually result from water getting trapped in the ear but can also be the result of eczema, excess earwax, use of hearing aids or earbuds, trauma from Q tips or other objects being inserted into the ear canals.
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Ear Infections And Hearing Loss
The middle ear is connected to your nose and throat via the Eustachian tube, which provides important ventilation to the middle ear and allows fluids to drain out into the throatwhen everything is working properly. The tube also collapses to prevent mucus from the nose and throat from backing up into the middle ear. A cold, the flu, allergies, sinus infections, or drastic altitude changes can block this drainage system, leaving gunk to fester in your cozy middle ear. This creates the ideal environment for bacterial infectionbut a terrible environment for good hearing. Thats when the pain, pressure, fever, and hearing loss of otitis media strikes.
On average, an ear infection can cause a 24-decibel hearing loss, just because of the fluid backup. This is about the same amount of hearing loss youd experience when wearing earplugs. The thicker the fluid backup in the ear, and the longer the infection lingers, you might lose up to 45 decibels of hearing. In either case, youll find yourself cranking up the volume on the TV just to hear the news, possibly irritating everyone else in the room.
Children And Ear Infections
Children may experience developmental problems due to hearing impairment, so its essential to treat it quickly. Like adults, children can develop hearing impairment due to ear infections. By the time theyre three years old, about 25% of children will experience at least one middle infection.
When a child is young, the Eustachian tube is horizontal, making it more prone to fluid blockage. Fluid in the ears doesnt drain as quickly, leading to temporary hearing impairments. Frequent infections not treated typically result in irreversible sensorineural loss during the chronic condition. If the infection isnt treated, it can damage the eardrum and nerves of the auditory system.
If, however, there is permanently impaired hearing, then auditory aids must be prescribed. If the infection is promptly treated, the hearing will often return to normal or close to it. It is common for children to develop ear infections. Fortunately, infections dont cause permanent damage, and when hearing returns to normal after treatment, the likelihood of permanent deafness is reduced. Speak with your doctor if you have any concerns.
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