Ear infections happen quite often and while they can be quite painful there are other concerns to take into consideration. No matter the cause of an ear infection, they can cause temporary hearing loss. Ear infections that cause fluid to build up in the middle of the ear are usually the major culprit of hearing loss. While the hearing loss associated with ear infections is definitely a cause for alarm, the good news is that this hearing loss often resolves itself if the initial infection is treated properly. Below we will explore everything you need to know about hearing loss cause by ear infections.
What is the cause of middle ear infections?
Developing a middle ear infection after the advancement of upper respiratory infections if very common. Often all it takes is a common cold to progress to bring on the pain and discomfort associated with middle ear infections. When a person’s throat becomes inflamed due to a respiratory infection the back of the throat swells. The middle ear is connected to your throat via the Eustachian tube allowing infection to spread to your ears. When fluid cannot drain due to the swelling hearing loss and infection in the middle ear occur.
Symptoms of middle ear infections
So how do you know for sure when you have a middle ear infection? If you have a fever, a consistent earache, and an unrelenting pressure in the ear, nausea or dizziness it is a good idea to go to your doctor to have your ears checked out. The sooner you recognize the symptoms of an ear infection the better, as they are easy to treat quickly so you can get relief.
Treating middle ear infections
Once your middle ear infection is diagnosed often the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic if you cannot fight off the infection on your own. This usually clears up an ear infection in a couple of days at the most. In the mean time it is important to also treat the pain associated with ear infections. Usually an anti-inflammatory such as Tylenol or Ibprophen will ease the swelling in your ears while waiting for the infection to subside. The good news is that what ever hearing loss you are dealing with will usually clear as the infection retreats from your ears.
Recurrent or chronic ear infections
If you are finding that you are having constant ear infections then there could be a physical problem with your ear that is making it too easy for fluid to become backed up in the middle ear. When this is the case a specialist in ears, nose in throat called an otolaryngologist will often recommend a surgical procedure called ear tube surgery. An ear tube surgery, also known as myringotomy involves a tiny incision in the eardrum used to release any build up of fluid that may regularly collect. A small plastic tube called a tympanostomy tube is added to the eardrum to make sure fluid is encouraged to leave the middle ear. his surgery can be done in a day so you can usually recover at home.
How to prevent middle ear infections
There are a few ways to prevent reoccurring ear infections. While none are full proof these precautions can make a big difference in minimizing the frequency of ear infections.
Most importantly avoid the common cold. If you practice good hygiene, make sure to wash your hands you can hopefully avoid a cold, especially at the height of the season. Making sure to boost you immune system helps allot in keeping a cold away. Make sure to get lots of sleep and eat a healthy diet full of vegetables and simple proteins. Taking vitamins like zinc and vitamin C also can help to keep your sinuses clear during cold season and shorten the length if you do catch the cold.
If you smoke or are close to someone who smokes around you and find yourself suffering from ear infections, then this might be good incentive for you or those close to you to quit. Smoke and second hand smoke can lower your immune system and irritate the Eustachian tube. If you do have an ear infection and are having trouble hearing make sure not to ignore the problem and have it treated so you can hear clearly as soon as possible.