Ear infections are very common conditions, particularly among children. These painful infections can occur in a number of ear locations, but the most common form is in the middle ear, otherwise known as otitis media. When bacteria-laden fluid is trapped in this part of the ear, it can inflame and infect the tissues, leading to pain and even damage to the features of the ear, including the eardrum. If they are diagnosed and treated early enough, there should be no lasting effect on hearing ability. However, some people who have suffered ear infections can have permanent damage to hearing. Let’s take a look at the causes of ear infections, their relation to hearing loss.
The most common form of ear infection is otitis media, and a bacterial upper respiratory infection, such as a common cold, is the root condition. Fluid accumulates in the ear and becomes trapped in the middle ear. This fluid is a breeding ground for inflammation, pain, and pressure in the ear. What’s more, this infection can also cause hearing loss in some cases. The good news is that hearing loss from ear infections tends to be temporary. Under the care of a physician, antibiotics are usually an effective treatment for most ear infections, and proper treatment results in full recovery of hearing ability. However, when ear infections go untreated, they can do sustained damage to the eardrum and other features of the ear canal. When the eardrum is seriously damaged from ear infections, especially when they happen repeatedly, the eardrum can be scarred or thickened, a condition called tympanosclerosis. In the worst cases, this condition can lead to permanent damage.
Treatment for Ear Infections and Hearing Loss
Ear infection treatment has become a routine procedure for many cases, including swimmer’s ear and otitis media in children. Treating the symptoms is often the first step, encouraging the ear to use its own defenses to attack the harmful bacterial infection. Pain relievers can be effective for comfort in mild cases. However, when the body is unable to fight off the infection on its own, antibiotics prescribed by a physician may be necessary. If a sustained ear infection comes along, it is no time to put off a visit to a physician. Often the pain is such that a person wants to seek treatment right away. The risk of hearing loss is yet another reason to immediately seek out treatment from a physician, specifically an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, even if that loss is only temporary. Don’t delay to seek treatment for an ear infection to receive not only pain relief but avoidance of further complications down the line.
The first step in the case of an ear infection is to seek medical attention by a physician. In the event that an extreme ear infection has caused lasting hearing loss, has been evaluated by an Ear, Nose and Throat physician and hearing aids have been medically recommended; an audiologist can administer a hearing exam to determine the type and range of hearing loss that is present. With that information in hand, an audiologist can recommend a range of hearing aids that are suited to your hearing needs as well as your lifestyle after medical clearance from a physician. The new technology in these devices can be remarkably effective to restore conversation ability and ease of movement through the world. Additional features can even sync with devices and merge seamlessly with active lifestyles.
If you feel that you or your loved one has incurred hearing loss, don’t delay to schedule an appointment for a consultation and hearing test with a licensed hearing health professional. The treatment may restore hearing ability you didn’t think possible!