Hearing Associates Color LogoHearing Associates Accent Logo

Can Ear Infections Cause Hearing Loss?

Ear infections can lead to temporary hearing loss that usually disappears after treatment. But frequent ear infections may result in long-term issues and permanent hearing damage. You can protect your hearing by taking preventative measures.

What Causes Ear Infections?

Also known as otitis media, an ear infection occurs when a virus or bacteria gets trapped behind your eardrum in your middle ear. The Eustachian tube that connects your middle ear to the back of your throat becomes inflamed and cannot drain fluid or regulate pressure.

You could develop an ear infection from:

  • An illness, like a cold or the flu
  • Allergies
  • Swimming in contaminated water
  • Head or neck trauma

Common Symptoms of Ear Infections

  • Ear pain or discomfort
  • Fullness in your ear
  • Drainage from your ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Nasal congestion
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy

How Ear Infections Can Cause Hearing Loss

The inflammation and fluid buildup affect how your hearing works, particularly your eardrum’s ability to respond to vibrations. That can create conductive hearing loss, which occurs when there’s an obstruction in your middle or outer ear.

The good news is that infection-induced hearing loss is usually temporary. Your hearing typically returns to normal after the fluid drains and the inflammation dissipates.

However, repeat ear infections present a greater risk for permanent hearing loss. Fluid and pressure buildup may lead to a tear in your eardrum, building up scar tissue and impeding function.

How to Treat an Ear Infection

Here are some at-home remedies for managing ear infection symptoms:

  • Take over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen and acetaminophen to manage pain and fever.
  • Apply a warm or cold compress to the affected ear for 15 to 20 minutes to ease pain.
  • Keep your ears dry.
  • Avoid sleeping on the infected ear.

Visit your primary care physician or ENT if your symptoms last longer than 72 hours or you experience severe pain or have a fever higher than 100⁰ F. You may require a prescription antibiotic to get rid of the infection.

Reducing the Risk of Ear Infections

Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands regularly, especially before touching your ears, to prevent spreading germs.

Keep your ears dry: Use a soft cloth to clean the outside of your ears after bathing and swimming.

Don’t use cotton swabs: They push earwax and bacteria further into your ear canal.

Avoid smoking: It can impact your immune system, making you more susceptible to ear infections.

Manage allergies: Avoid triggers or take appropriate medication to ease inflammation in your upper respiratory system.

Use earplugs: Wear earplugs in pools, lakes and other bodies of water to decrease your risk for swimmer’s ear.

 Struggling with Ear Infections? Hearing Associates Can Help.

Don’t let ear pain or hearing loss affect your quality of life. Schedule your appointment at Hearing Associates and let our dedicated team help you on your journey to better hearing.