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Can Ear Infections Cause Hearing Loss?

Almost everyone experiences ear infections at some point throughout their lives. Approximately five out of every six children are diagnosed with at least one ear infection before age 3. Adults, too, can experience the discomfort, clogged ears, and discharge associated with ear infections. Unfortunately, ear infections can also contribute to hearing loss

At Memorial Village ENT, Dr. Conrad McCutcheon, a board-certified ENT physician, and Marty Lippeatt, MS, FAAA, a licensed audiologist, work closely with you to create a treatment plan based on your needs. Here, we explore the link between ear infections and hearing loss and explain how we can help you with hearing loss at any age.

Ear infections and hearing loss

Do your ears feel clogged when you have an ear infection? This common symptom of ear infections has to do with your eustachian tube becoming obstructed. Your eustachian tube connects your throat and your middle ear, and normally, fluid flows through this tube. However, if fluid and mucus become trapped in your middle ear, you might notice those clogged, stuffy sensations.

Because of this, you may experience temporary hearing loss. As your infection clears and the fluid drains from your ear once again, your hearing may improve. 

While many people recover from ear infections without any permanent hearing loss, chronic ear infections can lead to permanent damage to your ear. If your eardrum or the small bones in your ear become damaged, it can contribute to permanent hearing loss.

Why do ear infections cause hearing loss?

Ear infections are associated with a type of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. This happens when sound waves can’t properly reach your inner ear. Normally, sound waves vibrate the tiny hair cells inside your inner ear, but in the case of conductive hearing loss, the sound waves aren’t amplified as much as they should be. 

If you have temporary hearing loss from clogged ears, it may be harder to hear out of your affected ear, and some sounds may sound muffled. 

Other causes of conductive hearing loss

If your hearing has changed, but you don’t currently have an ear infection, your hearing loss could be related to other conditions. Other causes of conductive hearing loss include:

It’s also possible that scarring on your eardrum affects hearing because the scars can prohibit your eardrum from moving the way it should.

Treating ear infections and hearing loss

Sometimes medication, such as antibiotics, can help clear your ear infection. However, if your hearing doesn’t return after your infection clears, you may benefit from a comprehensive hearing evaluation.

Dr. McCutcheon treats the underlying problem to restore your hearing. If you need an assistive listening device, we can explain all of your hearing aid options.

If you’re concerned about hearing loss related to chronic ear infections, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Memorial Village ENT. Give us a call at 281-822-3777 or request an appointment online today.

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