Have you had a child with ear infections? If so, you know they can be scary. For the sufferer, they are very painful, and there can be an accompanying concern of possible long-term hearing loss.
Ear infections can rarely cause permanent hearing loss: any hearing loss related to an infection will usually resolve with the infection.
Ear infections themselves are not all equal: they can have different causes. Because an ear infection is in the ear, any ear infection can cause temporary hearing loss. The category of infection that is most often related to hearing loss is otitis media, or middle ear infection.
Middle ear infection, or acute otitis media, involves ear canal inflammation and can be quite painful. Temporary hearing loss may result from buildup of fluid behind the eardrum. This hearing loss is merely the result of a physical blockage, however, and will subside with the swelling.
What Causes Middle Ear Infections?
The common cold or other upper respiratory infections may lead to a middle ear infection. The Eustachian tube (connecting the throat and middle ear) can become inflamed, resulting in an imbalance of pressure. Pain and temporary hearing loss can then follow.
An outer ear infection such as Swimmer’s Ear is most often caused by water trapped within the ear canal. You may feel as if your head is in a box, making sounds muted or distorted. This type of ear infection can usually be resolved by removing the fluid. Lay down or tilt the head towards the affected side, and this will allow the water to come out by itself. Another option is an over-the-counter bottle of swimmer’s ear drops, which will help to dry up the moisture quickly.
Why Children Get Ear Infections More Commonly Than Adults
Middle ear infections occur more often in children than in adults because the Eustachian tubes of children are less developed. This makes drainage of excess fluids more difficult during an infection. Children also possess less-advanced immune systems, and they are more likely to get infections in general.
Symptoms of Ear Infections
Infants and very young children are not able to express the pain they are feeling. Here are some signs to help you recognize if your baby has an ear infection:
- Pulling on ears
- Not reacting to voices or sounds
- Fluids draining from ears
Sometimes it can be hard to recognize ear infections in older children and adults too. Here are some clues:
- Difficulty understanding speech
- Pressure in the ears
- Feeling boxed in or sounds being muted
- Imbalance, Dizziness
- Ear Pain
- Nausea, Vomiting
Recurring ear infections are more likely to lead to permanent hearing loss, so visit your physician or audiologist to investigate prevention methods.
Ear infections usually do not last more than a few days and often resolve on their own. The best thing you can do is to keep your child hydrated and rested.
Annual hearing check-ups are important to catch any potential hearing damage as early as possible. Contact us today to schedule a quick, easy hearing evaluation for you or your child!
We’ve served San Jose and the Bay Area for over 40 years, providing the right solution for Your Life. Your Style.
The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to audiology, feel free to contact Los Gatos Audiology, with a convenient hearing center located in Los Gatos, CA, by clicking here or by calling 408.703.0772.