The Connection Between Ear Infections and Hearing Loss
Several factors, including ageing, noise exposure, genes, or injury, can cause hearing loss. Most people, however, do not realize an ear infection could also cause hearing loss.
If left untreated, ear infections may cause temporary hearing loss as the fluid buildup and inflammation block sound. Although it may not seem serious, it could have a toll on your communication and everyday life.
Hearing Loss Due to An Ear Infection
Acute otitis media, or a sudden infection in the middle ear, is the medical term for what is often referred to as an ear infection. Ear infections result from inflammation or fluid buildup caused by a virus or bacteria. A cold, sore throat, or respiratory illness may also cause an ear infection.
What Causes Ear Infections?
Some risks that enhance the prevalence of ear infections include:
- Age – Ear infections are more common in young kids but also affect adults.
- Genes – Ear infections can be genetic.
- Colds – Having a cold enhances the chances of developing an ear infection.
- Allergies – The buildup of fluid in your ear provides an ideal environment for germs to grow and reproduce.
- Chronic Illnesses – People with chronic illnesses, particularly those with immune weakness and chronic respiratory diseases such as cystic fibrosis and asthma, are more susceptible to getting ear infections.
Some signs of an ear infection include:
- Ear pain
- Tugging at the ears in children
- Ear drainage
How Long Does Infection-Related Hearing Loss Last in Adults?
Hearing loss caused by an ear infection is usually temporal or conductive hearing loss. Sound vibrations can be transmitted efficiently once the fluid has drained from the middle ear. Treatment of the infection can help restore your hearing abilities.
The fluid blocking the sound waves, on the other hand, may persist for a long time. While the symptoms of otitis media usually go away within 48 to 72 hours, the fluid built up in the middle ear can last up to three months. While the fluid is trapped, you may have difficulty hearing.
Does Hearing Return to Normal?
Hearing is often restored to normal or near-normal levels once the ear infection is treated. Hearing aids are used to address any permanent hearing loss.
Unlike glasses, which allow you to see better right away, hearing aids can take some time to adjust to as your brain relearns how to process the sounds that have been missing.
Can Ear Infections Cause Permanent Deafness?
Ear infections are unlikely to cause permanent hearing loss. Only when the eardrum, bones, or hearing nerve are damaged will there be a risk for irreversible hearing loss. This is more common in children than adults.
When swimming, use swim earplugs to avoid chronic ear infections. Avoid smoking and talk to your hearing specialist if you notice any ear infection symptoms.
Contact Bravo Hearing If You Think You Have Hearing Loss
If you suspect you have hearing loss, it would be best to talk to our hearing specialists to help determine the type and severity of the hearing loss. We can also determine the best course of treatment after their evaluation.