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

What is typically known as an ear infection, is medically called otitis media or AOM. These ear infections can have an affect on adults and children alike, especially after a sinus infection or a cold. You can even get an ear infection from a bad tooth.

Hearing loss is one of the major signs and symptoms of an infection inside the middle ear. But is it going to last forever? You might not realize it but there is no simple answer. There are many things happening with ear infections. You should learn how the injury caused by ear infections can have an impact on your hearing.

Otitis Media, What is it?

Basically, otitis media is an infection of the middle ear. It could possibly be any kind of microorganism causing the infection however bacteria is the most common.

The main way an infection is specified is by what part of the ear is infected. The outer ear, which is medically known as the pinna, is where swimmer’s ear develops, which is called otitus externa. If the bacterial growth occurs in the cochlea, the medical term is labyrinthitis or inner ear infection.

The area behind the eardrum but in front of the cochlea is referred to as the middle ear. The membranes of the inner ear are vibrated by three very small bones called ossicles which are housed in this area. The eardrum can actually break as a result of the pressure from this type of infection, which is likely to be really painful. This pressure is not only very painful, it causes hearing loss. The ear canal can be clogged by infectious material which can then result in a loss of hearing.

A middle ear infection has the following symptoms:

  • Ear drainage
  • Ear pain
  • Diminished ability to hear

Usually, hearing will return in the course of time. The pressure dissipates and the ear canal opens up. This will only happen when the infection is resolved. There are some exceptions, however.

Chronic Ear Infections

Ear infections affect most people at least once in their life. Some people, however, will get ear infections again and again so they become chronic. Because of complications, these people’s hearing loss is worse and can even become permanent.

Conductive Hearing Loss From Chronic Ear Infections

Ear infections can sometimes cause conductive hearing loss. When this occurs, the sound waves going to the inner ear are not loud enough. By the time the sound reaches the tiny hairs in the inner ear, they are amplified by the mechanisms of the ear canal and reach their maximum power. With a conductive hearing loss, something changes along that route and the sound isn’t amplified as much.

When you get an ear infection, bacteria are not just laying inside your ear doing nothing. The mechanisms that amplify sound waves are decomposed and eaten by the bacteria. Typically, this type of damage involves the eardrum and the tiny little bones. The bones are very delicate and it doesn’t take much to destroy them. Once they are gone, their gone. You don’t just get your hearing back once this damage occurs. Surgically installing prosthetic bones is one possible way that a doctor might be able to fix this. The eardrum may have some scar tissue after it repairs itself, which will affect its ability to vibrate. Surgery can correct that, as well.

This Permanent Hearing Loss Can be Prevented

Above all, consult a doctor if you think you have an ear infection. You shouldn’t wait if you want to preserve your hearing. If you get chronic ear infections, you shouldn’t ignore them. The more severe the infections you have, the more harm they cause. Ear infections typically begin with allergies, sinus infections, and colds so take measures to avoid them. If you smoke, now is the time to quit, too, because smoking multiplies your risk of getting chronic respiratory troubles.

If you are still having problems hearing after having an ear infection, see a doctor. It is possible you have some damage, but that is not the only thing that causes conductive hearing loss. Hearing aids are very helpful if you have permanent hearing loss. To get more info about hearing aids, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.