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Woman recovers her hearing after an ear infection and listens to her grandaughter whisper something in her ear.

Otitis media is the medical name for what you probably call an ear infection. These ear infections can have an affect on children as well as adults, particularly after a sinus infection or a cold. Even a bad tooth can lead to an ear infection.

Exactly how long will loss of hearing last after you get an infection of the middle ear? To find a complete answer can be somewhat complex. There are quite a few variables to take into consideration. To understand the potential risks, you should learn more about the injury these infections can cause and how they impact hearing.

Just what is Otitis Media?

Otitus media is an infection of the middle ear to put it simply. Bacteria is the most common cause, but it might be caused by any micro-organism.

It’s what part of the ear the infection occurs in that identifies it. The outer ear, which is called the pinna, is the part of the ear where swimmer’s ear happens, which is called otitis externa. The term labyrinthitis describes an infection of the cochlea or inner ear.

The middle ear consists of the area behind the eardrum but in front of the cochlea. The membranes of the inner ear are vibrated by three little bones called ossicles which are located in this area. The eardrum will often actually break due to the pressure from this kind of infection, which is likely to be extremely painful. This pressure is not only painful, it also causes a loss of hearing. The infectious material accumulates and finally blocks the ear canal enough to hinder the movement of sound waves.

A middle ear infection includes the following symptoms:

  • Ear leakage
  • Pain in the ear
  • Decreased ability to hear

Usually, hearing will return in the course of time. The pressure goes away and the ear canal opens up. The infection gets resolved and your hearing returns. There are some exceptions, however.

Repeated Ear Infections

The majority of people get an ear infection at least once in their life. Some people, however, will get ear infections again and again and they will become chronic. Because of complications, these people’s hearing loss is worse and can possibly become permanent.

Conductive Hearing Loss From Ear Infections

Conductive hearing loss can be brought on by chronic ear infections. When this happens the inner ear can’t get sound waves at the proper strength. By the time the sound reaches the tiny hairs in the inner ear, they are amplified by the elements of the ear canal and reach their maximum strength. Sometimes something changes along this route and the sound is not properly amplified. This is called conductive hearing loss.

When you get an ear infection, bacteria are not just sitting in your ear doing nothing. The components that amplify sound waves are broken down and eaten by the bacteria. The damage is in most cases done to the tiny little bones and the eardrum. It doesn’t take very much to break down these delicate bones. Once they are gone, they stay gone. When this happens your ears don’t heal themselves. In some cases, surgeons can put in prosthetic bones to repair hearing. The eardrum might have scar tissue once it repairs itself, which will influence its ability to move. This can also potentially be fixed with surgery.

This Permanent Damage Can be Avoided

It’s essential to see a doctor when you think you may have an ear infection. The sooner you get treatment, the better. Always get chronic ear infection examined by a doctor. More damage is caused by more serious infections. Ear infections usually start with allergies, sinus infections, and colds so take steps to prevent them. It’s time to stop smoking because it leads to chronic respiratory issues which can, in turn, lead to ear infections.

If you are still having problems hearing after having an ear infection, see a doctor. Other things can cause conductive hearing loss, but you may have some damage. If you find out that it’s permanent, hearing aids will help you hear again. You should schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to get more information about hearing aids.

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