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This is a time when health concerns are on our minds more than ever. Taking reasonable precautions without letting our reactions become unreasonable will be crucial for our physical health and our mental wellbeing as we move forward. With serious health concerns on our minds, it is more important than ever to understand the causes and effects of infections. Let’s take a moment to consider a very common infection with possible effects on hearing ability: ear infections. These infections commonly occur in children and adults, and they can be very painful. The good news is that most types of ear infections can be fully treated without lasting effects. However, if they are left untreated, these common infections can have more serious consequences. The following information is essential to understand in order to take care of your ear and hearing health.
What causes an ear infection?
There are several major types of ear infections, and they tend to be categorized according to the location within the ear canal in which the infection occurs. One of the most common types of ear infection is referred to as swimmer’s ear. In this condition, fluid is trapped in the outer section of the ear canal, and bacteria in the fluid can grow out of control. This bacterial infection can be very painful, but it does have readily available medical and homeopathic remedies. As well, it does not tend to lead to hearing loss. Another common designation of ear infection is otitis media. This infection is quite similar, in that it has to do with fluid trapped in the ear canal. However, that fluid is trapped deeper in the middle ear and is not necessarily coming from swimming in a body of water but rather can be present due to another illness, including a virus, bacterial infection, or common cold. When mucus, drainage, or other fluid is trapped in this deeper section of the ear, it can cause an acute infection that is more difficult to eradicate. However, antibiotics tend to be effective at curing ear infections of this kind. The risk to hearing occurs when these ear infections repeat over time.
Do ear infections cause hearing loss?
In many cases, ear infections do not cause any hearing loss at all. Particularly if they are caught early on, most of these infections can be completely cured without lasting effects. However, some severe infections cause temporary hearing loss while the infection is present. This muffled, stuffed, or clogged sound can be one of the symptoms that lasts as long as the infection is present. In worse cases, temporary hearing loss can last beyond the duration of the infection, but it can go away along with the healing of the ear canal. If a serious ear infection is left untreated, or if a person experiences repeated ear infections over time, there is a possibility of lasting hearing loss. The eardrum, or tympanic membrane, can be calloused or damaged by the presence of bacteria and infected fluid in the middle ear. Although these conditions are rare, they are a serious consideration when debating how soon to go to the doctor for ear infection treatment. With this possibility in mind, it is important not to put off ear infection treatment for too long.
What can be done about hearing loss?
If you find yourself with hearing loss related to an ear infection, consult with your physician immediately. It is possible that the hearing loss will go away with time. However, in some extreme cases, hearing assistance may be needed. The latest hearing aid technology is remarkably efficient at assisting hearing in many contexts, especially the range of the human voice in conversation. Hearing aids are not perfectly effective for everyone, but most people find that they restore the essential forms of hearing to fully take part in life, including social events, moving through the world, and feeling secure in public and private life. The first step is to contact your hearing professional for a hearing test to determine what if any hearing loss has occurred. If you do have hearing loss, your hearing health professional can recommend hearing aids that can help you communicate and thrive once again.