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Ear Infections & Hearing Loss

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Dr. Timothy Teague, AuD

Dr. Teague earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Hearing, Speech and Language from Ohio University and his Doctoral Degree in Audiology from The University of Louisville. He is an active member of the American Academy of Audiology and the Ohio Board of Audiology.
Dr. Timothy Teague, AuD

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Most everyone has had an ear infection from time to time. They are mostly annoying and mildly irritating but you probably never thought you could end up suffering from untreated hearing loss after having an ear infection. You may have experienced a temporary loss of hearing or the sounds may have been muffled or unclear. But after the infection had been treated, everything went back to normal again.

Types of Infections That Can Cause Hearing Problems

Hearing loss comes in several different stages: severe, mild, permanent, or temporary. An infection can cause any of these types of loss of hearing depending on the type of infection.

An infection or inflammation in the ear canal is usually called “swimmer’s ear.” This type of infection is not just from swimming but even though a person’s hearing is impaired, it gets better once the infection is gone.

When the infection affects the middle ear, it is a little more serious and the symptoms include pus that builds up in the ear along with swelling and a temporary loss of hearing.

A fluid buildup in the inner ear can occur without an infection. You may experience muffled hearing but it is only temporary and as long as the buildup doesn’t become infected there is no problem and hearing loss will be returned to normal.

The most serious of conditions of the ear is a viral infection of the main hearing organ, the cochlea. It results in a loss of hearing that occurs suddenly and can return completely, partially, or not at all. The type of virus that affects the cochlea is said to be the same type as you would get with a cold, influenza or an upper respiratory infection.

Symptoms of Ear Infections

Small children may be hard to diagnose with an ear infection but it probably starts when they complain that their ears hurt. Other symptoms of problems with a child’s ears include: a fever, pulling around the ear and scratching, and some secretions that come from the ear.

As children get older and when they and adults get an ear infection it starts with an earache, they may feel pressure in their ears, and they could become dizzy or lose their balance.

How Middle Ear Infections Are Treated

When an ear infection is the result of a fluid buildup, the treatment that works best is an antibiotic. It is important with all antibiotics to take the entire dosage even if you feel better within a day or two. If not, the infection can return.

If a child or an adult continues to suffer from constant infections, they may have to have a procedure administered where a tube is placed in the eardrum that will help the fluid buildup to pass.

If the fluid that builds up in the ears is not taken care of right away it can turn into a serious situation. Untreated loss of hearing due to an infection has the possibility of becoming a permanent loss of hearing. The buildup of fluids could create enough pressure for your eardrums to rupture. A perforated eardrum can occur if someone suffers from recurring infections.

Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss

If you go swimming and you get water in your ear it doesn’t necessarily mean you have swimmers’ ear. Turn your head to the side so that if you do have water in your ear it has a chance to drain out. If not, and you experience a temporary loss of hearing, you may want to visit a health professional to determine if it is something that can be resolved.

Usually, loss of hearing happens over a period of time so you may not notice it right away. At the first sign of hearing problems, you should see a doctor. Untreated hearing problems could turn out to be permanent loss of hearing.

Hearing Consultants

If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing due to ear infection and are struggling with communication, contact us today. It is better to deal with untreated hearing loss immediately. We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we’re here to help!