Ear Infections & Hearing Loss

Ear Infections & Hearing Loss

Dr. Kevin H. Ivory

Dr. Kevin Ivory, Au.D., CCC-A received his Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then went on to earn his Doctor of Audiology degree from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, one of the top 10 audiology residential programs in the country.
Dr. Kevin H. Ivory

Latest posts by Dr. Kevin H. Ivory (see all)

Ear infections are more prevalent in children than in adults, although untreated hearing loss in adults can be more serious. Infections of the ear in adults should be carefully diagnosed and monitored by a qualified physician to lower the risks of complications. There are certain factors, which put some people at a higher risk of contracting ear infections compared to other people. However, there are effective treatments and preventive measures that can be utilized to minimize hearing loss complications. Below are comprehensive guidelines about symptoms, causes, and treatment options of ear infections and hearing loss.

Signs and Symptoms That Might Point to Presence of Infections on the Ear

The ear is a sensitive part of the body that is made up of several different chambers. Infections of the ear may strike any of these chambers, and when untreated hearing loss develops for long, the infections may result in various signs and symptoms.

The main chambers of the ear are:

  • The inner part
  • The middle part
  • The outer part

The central and outer parts of the ear are more prone to infections. Symptoms of other underlying conditions likely influence the inner part of the ear rarely affected by infections, and sometimes the area.

Signs and symptoms of ear problems vary in adult depending on the area with infection. If they occur, you might experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hearing problem
  • Headache
  • Draining fluids from the ear
  • Inflammation
  • Tender touch around the ear surface
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing changes

If you experience discharge from your ear, it is an indication of a severe issue, and you should seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

Factors That Increases the Risk of Infections on the Ear

Children are at higher risk of getting infections on the ear compared to adults. This is because Eustachian tubes in children are smaller and lie horizontally as compared to the adults. If you have a smaller Eustachian tube probably that hasn’t developed more of a slope, you could be at a higher risk of developing infections on the ear.

Also, if you are an active smoker or you live among people who smoke, you are more likely to get an infection on the ear. People who also experience seasonal allergies are also at risk of contracting infections on the ear. Upper respiratory infections such as cold and influenza can increase your chances of having an ear infection.

When You Should See a Doctor

Most of the infections on the ear usually heal on their own without medical treatment. Hence, if you only detect earache symptoms, you might wait for several days to evaluate the pain before deciding to see a doctor. If the ear pain doesn’t cease after two to three days, and you start experiencing fever, you should seek medical intervention immediately. Furthermore, the presence of draining fluid or difficult in hearing may be a sign of severe underlying infection, and you should notify your medical professional.

Diagnosis of infections on the ear and loss of hearing

A comprehensive diagnosis will take account of your previous health history as well as the current symptoms. Your doctor might also use an otoscope to check your outer ear and eardrum.

An otoscope is a handheld device with magnifying lenses that are used to check the health of your ears. A special otoscope known as pneumatic is capable of emitting a puff of air in the air drum. How air reacts in the air drum can help to diagnose the type of problem in the ear. Tympanometry is another device that can effectively diagnose the possibility of any infection on the ear. This tool is also used to evaluate the functionality of your ear. In case the infection has caused a hearing loss, your doctor may carry out a simple hearing test.

Treatment Options

Treatment options vary depending on the chamber you have infections. Antibiotic drugs are the most common drugs used to treat infections in the middle and outer ear.

Effective treatment should eliminate all ear complications. Untreated hearing loss may put you at the risk of having permanent loss of hearing and possibly spread the infection to other parts of the head.

Preventive Measures

To minimize the chances of an ear infection, implement the following tips:

  • Regular clean and dry your ears using dry cotton wool
  • Stop smoking and if you don’t smoke be away from smokers
  • Ensure your hands are always clean and stay away from people with upper respiratory infections
  • Control your allergies by avoiding triggers and taking up allergy medications as prescribed

La Canada Hearing

If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing due to ear infection and are struggling with communication, contact us today. We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we’re here to help!