An ear infection is the typical name, but it’s medically known as otitis media or AOM. These ear infections can have an effect on adults and children alike, especially after a sinus infection or a cold. You can even get an ear infection from a bad tooth.
Exactly how long will hearing loss last after an infection of the middle ear? You might not recognize it but the answer can be complicated. Ear infections have a lot of things happening. You should understand how the injury caused by ear infections can have an impact on your hearing.
Otitis Media, Exactly What is it?
Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear to put it simply. It could possibly be any kind of microorganism causing the infection however bacteria is the most common.
The primary way in which an infection is specified is by what part of the ear is infected. When the infection is in the pinna, or outer ear, or in front of the eardrum, the condition is called otitis externa or swimmer’s ear. An inner ear infection, otherwise known as laberynthitus is brought about by bacteria in the cochlea.
The middle ear is comprised of the space behind the eardrum but in front of the cochlea. The three little bones in this area, called ossicles, are responsible for vibrating the membranes of the inner ear. The eardrum can actually break as a result of the pressure from this sort of infection, which tends to be really painful. Your inability to hear very well is also due to this pressure. The infectious material accumulates and blocks the ear canal enough to interfere with the movement of sound waves.
A middle ear infection has the following symptoms:
- Drainage from the ear
- Pain in the ear
- Reduced ability to hear
Over time, hearing will come back for the majority of people. The ear canal will then open up and hearing will return. The issue will only be resolved when the infection is resolved. There are some exceptions, though.
Chronic Ear Infections
The majority of people get an ear infection at least once in their lifetime. The problem can become chronic for some people and they will keep having ear infections. Chronic ear infections can cause complications that mean a more significant and maybe even permanent hearing loss, especially if the issues are left untreated.
Conductive Hearing Loss From Ear Infections
Ear infections can sometimes cause conductive hearing loss. As a result, the inner ear can’t receive sound waves at the proper intensity. By the time the sound reaches the tiny hairs in the inner ear, they are already amplified by the components of the ear canal and reach their maximum power. With a conductive hearing loss, something changes along that route and the sound isn’t amplified quite as much.
Bacteria don’t just sit and do nothing in the ear when you have an ear infection. The components that amplify sound waves are decomposed and eaten by the bacteria. Typically, this type of damage involves the eardrum and the tiny little bones. The bones are very delicate and it doesn’t take much to break them up. Once they are gone, their gone. That’s permanent damage and your hearing won’t return on its own. In certain cases, surgeons can put in prosthetic bones to fix hearing. The eardrum might have some scar tissue once it repairs itself, which will influence its ability to move. Surgery can correct that, as well.
What Can You do to Counter This Permanent Hearing Loss?
If you believe that you might have an ear infection, call a doctor immediately. You shouldn’t wait if you want to preserve your hearing. If you have chronic ear infections, don’t ignore them. The more severe the infections you have, the more damage they will cause. Finally, take the appropriate steps to prevent colds, allergies, and sinus infections because that is how ear infections normally start. It’s time to give up smoking because it causes chronic respiratory issues which can, in turn, lead to ear infections.
If you’ve had an ear infection and still are having trouble hearing, see your doctor. It could be possible that you have some damage, but that is not the only thing that causes conductive hearing loss. Hearing aids can be very helpful if you have permanent loss of hearing. You can schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to get more information about hearing aids.