If you or your child suffers from ear infections you are probably pretty familiar with the symptoms of ear pain, fever and ear drainage. Occasionally, hearing loss can occur as well. Usually, this is temporary; however, chronic ear infections have the potential to cause permanent hearing loss.
How Ear Infections Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Temporary hearing loss from a single ear infection is caused by fluid buildup in the middle ear. It may cause noises to sound muffled when you’re at work or ordering breakfast at Sleeping Bird Coffee. While it may be disorienting, this type of hearing loss should resolve after your infection clears up.
Can Ear Infections Lead to Permanent Hearing Loss?
Studies have shown that in certain cases, chronic ear infections may increase your risk of developing sensorineural hearing loss, which is permanent.
A study of 123 patients with chronic ear infections found that a “highly significant association was found between the presence of chronic otitis media and sensorineural hearing loss.”
An additional descriptive cross-sectional study conducted between 2013 to 2014 examined data from people who suffered from chronic suppurative otitis media. This is an ongoing ear infection that is accompanied by a ruptured eardrum. Researchers found that sensorineural hearing loss was reported in 52% of patients and the frequency of hearing loss was found to grow as the length of the ear infection increased.
Treatment for Ear Infections
It’s important to visit a doctor if you or your child are exhibiting signs of an ear infection. While most infections clear up on their own, it’s important for a doctor to rule out additional complications or decide if antibiotics or other treatments are needed.
What if Hearing Loss Lingers After an Ear Infection?
Contact your doctor if hearing loss or any other issues linger for weeks after an infection has cleared up. They may refer you to an audiologist for a hearing test or full audiological exam to determine the problem.
If permanent hearing loss has occurred, you may be prescribed hearing aids. Your audiologist will work with you to find a pair that meets your individual needs and fits your current lifestyle.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, contact Wilmington Audiology Services today.