Ear Infections & Hearing Loss

Ear Infections & Hearing Loss

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D. Ear Health

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D.

Beverly Hills Hearing Center was founded in 1983 by Bonnie Baehr. Prior to that, Dr. Baehr practiced at the House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles as a staff audiologist for seven years. She was involved with diagnostic testing, hearing aid evaluations, research and rehabilitation. Dr. Baehr did her clinical fellowship training at the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in downtown Los Angeles. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology, American Speech Language and Hearing Association, California Academy of Audiology and Academy of Doctors of Audiology.
Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D.

Latest posts by Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D. (see all)

Various factors, such as aging, infections, heredity genes, injury, and noise pollutions, are the most significant causes, which contribute to reversible or permanent loss of hearing. These factors mainly affect the auditory nerves, resulting in a sensorineural hearing loss, which is the most common type of ear infection. However, untreated hearing loss, which is a result of ear infections are capable of causing permanent loss of hearing. Conductive loss of hearing is a condition that arises as a result of infections on the ear.

Is Hearing Infection a Type of Conductive Hearing Loss?

When your doctor diagnoses you with an ear infection, he or she might describe it as a conductive loss of hearing. Therefore, conductive loss of hearing is a condition that is caused by infections on the ear. However, conductive loss of hearing affects only the outer, and the middle ear, rather than auditory nerves like sensorineural nerves do. The middle ear serves as the gateway, allowing sound to travel through to your auditory nerve. Any obstruction in the middle ear can block the sound from moving through, which might result in loss of hearing. A buildup of fluid, pus, or wax in the middle ear or even a hole in the eardrum can each cause conductive damage of hearing.

Otitis media is the medical terminology of particular infections on the ear that affect the middle ear. These ear infections are likely to cause a buildup of fluids, making it difficult for ossicular muscle chains and eardrums to work together in moving the sound to the auditory nerve. The ossicular muscle chain in the middle ear is made up of the smallest bones in the body. They are known as incus, stapes, and malleus, and each one has a size almost similar to that of single grain rice.

Signs and Symptoms of Infections on the Ear

There are three types of ear infection symptoms, which correspond to the three central parts of the ear.

  1. Infection on the Inner Ear

Often, infections diagnosed as inner ear disorder are more likely to be a result of inflammation or swelling and not the actual infection cause. Some of the symptoms of an inner ear infection include:

  • Ear pain
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Internal infections may signify other underlying severe conditions, such as meningitis.

  1. Infections on the Middle Ear

The middle ear is located just after the eardrum. Medically, the infections on the middle ear are referred to as otitis media. This condition is caused by a buildup of fluid in the central ear area, resulting in swelling of the eardrum. Besides ear pain, you may feel fullness in your ear as well as have fluid drainage in the affected ear. In most cases, otitis media is accompanied by fever. Also, you may have hearing problems that are likely to heal when the infections start to clear.

  1. Infections on the Outer Ear

The outer ear extends from your eardrum towards the outside. Otitis externa is a medical term of the outer ear infection. Infections on the outer ear often start as an itching rash. Other symptoms of an outer ear infection include:

  • Inflammation
  • Earache
  • Tender feeling around the ear
  • The skin around the ear becomes red

When to See a Doctor

If your only symptom is earache, you might wait for two or three days before seeking medical treatment. Sometimes, earache heals without any treatment a few days after contracting infections. However, in the case of ear pain improves, but you are still running a fever, you should seek medical attention early before the infection progress to chronic symptoms. Also, if you start dripping fluid from your ear or you experience hearing difficulties visit your health professional for a checkup.

Treatment Options

Treatment options vary depending on the ear infection you will be diagnosed with. Untreated hearing loss may progress to chronic diseases resulting in permanent loss of hearing. Antibiotics treat many cases of outer and middle infections on the ear.

If you may have viral infections, you may likely feel irritated on your ear, but you should wait for the disease to resolve on its own. However, more specialized treatment techniques may be carried if you are infected with severe traits of virus infection.

Beverly Hills Hearing Center

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