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Can Ear Infections Cause Hearing Loss

Ear infections can result in hearing loss. Infection causes the ear canal to swell, which blocks or muffles the sound. Sometimes the condition is temporary. Other times the damage is irreversible.

Types of Ear Infection

Otitis Externa

Infection of the outside of the ear canal. Water in the ear or other factors can cause inflammation that blocks the sound from moving through the ear canal. Swimmer’s ear is a form of otitis externa. Most of the time, with this type of ear infection, hearing loss goes away when the swelling goes down.

Otitis Media

The middle of the ear canal becomes infected. A cold, allergies, or the introduction of bacteria and viruses cause pockets of infection to form behind the eardrum. Patients with a middle ear infection experience pain and fever. Left untreated, middle ear infections can cause permanent hearing loss.

Otitis Media With Effusion

When fluid sits on the eardrum for a length of time, it blocks or muffles sound. There may not be any virus or bacteria involved, but if the fluid gets infected, the eardrum might burst.

Viral Infections

The cochlea is the part of your ear directly responsible for hearing. Infections of the cochlea can cause sudden hearing loss that might be irreversible.

Complications From Ear Infections

Most ear infections clear up quickly when children receive proper medical care, although some children just seem to have one ear infection after the other. When infections are frequent, there is an increased risk of these complications:

  • Hearing Impairment – During an ear infection, most people experience mild hearing loss. Even if it returns after the infection clears, keep in mind there’s a period of declined hearing ability. Frequent infections can damage the eardrum so that the hearing loss becomes permanent.
  • Speech Development Delay – When an ear infection reduces hearing in children who are learning to talk, their speech and developmental skills may be delayed.
  • Eardrum Tearing – Infection can cause an eardrum to burst. Sometimes an eardrum must be surgically repaired.

If you suspect an ear infection, protect your hearing by getting to the doctor right away. The Hearing Center at Southeast Texas ENT has been providing hearing care to Beaumont and the surrounding communities for over 30 years. To make sure your ears are as healthy as they can be, book an appointment with us today.

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