This is the season for the flu, common colds and yes, even an ear infection! From your neighbors and friends to your work colleagues, it seems everyone is sick with something this season! Here you will find out more about the signs and symptoms of ear infections so you can be more proactive about your hearing healthcare.

There are many ways a person can suffer permanent hearing loss. From loud and prolonged exposure to noise, ototoxicity (medication interactions) medical issues and more. An ear infection also has the potential to cause long lasting hearing loss.

An Ear Infection is Otitis Media

ear infectionTo many of us, we know an ear infection as just that. However, medically, it is called otitis media or AOM. “Otitis media is a group of inflammatory diseases of the middle ear. The two main types are acute otitis media (AOM) and otitis media with effusion (OME). AOM is an infection of rapid onset that usually presents with ear pain. In young children this may result in pulling at the ear, increased crying, and poor sleep.” (Wikipedia)

Types of Ear Infections

ear diagramEar infections can occur in any ear, including children and adults. In many cases, ear infections can occur following a sinus infection or cold. It is also possible for an ear infection to occur as a side effect of a dental issue.

In simple terms, Otitis media, or an ear infection, is an infection of the middle ear, usually associated to various bacteria or microorganisms. Where the infection occurs within the ear determines what type of ear infection a patient is experiencing. For example, if the ear infection takes place in the pinna, outer ear area, or in the frontal area of the eardrum, the ear infection condition is called otitis externa or swimmer’s ear. However, If the infection is located within the cochlea, the illness is labeled labyrinthitis or as we know it, an inner ear infection.

If an infection occurs in the middle ear this can be very painful because an infection in the area puts a lot of extra pressure on the eardrum. This pressure can rupture the eardrum if it occurs long enough and adds enough pressure to this area.

The middle ear is the space behind the eardrum and in front of the cochlea. In addition to the added pressure to the eardrum being painful, this pressure can also cause a hearing loss. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, it is time to see a hearing health professional:

  • Drainage from the ear
  • Pain within the ear
  • Decreased ability to hear
  • Pain in teeth on the corresponding side of the mouth as the ear pain
  • Loss of balance
  • Dizziness

Most people do get at least one ear infection throughout their lives. Hearing loss is more likely to occur and impact your long-term hearing abilities if you are experiencing recurring ear infections of varying severities. If you are experiencing chronic ear infections, the likelihood of having long-term hearing loss increases. Chronic ear infections can lead to problems that mean a more significant and maybe even permanent hearing loss, especially if the issues are left untreated.

Remember this: Ear infections usually begin with allergies, sinus infections, and colds so take measures to prevent them. And, if you are a smoker, it is time to give up smoking! Why? Because smoking causes chronic respiratory problems, which lead to ear infections.

Time to See a Hearing Health Professional

Ear infection ENTIf you are a person who experiences chronic issues with ear infections, it is important to see an ENT (Otolaryngologist) or Audiologist as soon as possible. A person with ear infections should never go untreated. In fact, the sooner you get treatment, the better. If you’ve had an ear infection and are still having difficulties hearing, see a hearing health specialist. Other things can cause conductive hearing loss, but it may be possible that you may have some damage. There are hearing aid options that will help with permanent hearing loss but preventing hearing loss and long-term inner ear damage should be your primary objective.

If you are a person who suffers from chronic ear infections and you live in the Rhode Island, Southern New England area, reach out to our team of experienced clinicians today. Physicians Hearing Solutions, located in East Providence and Warwick, Rhode Island provide the local community with extensive hearing healthcare services. From offering patients free hearing screenings annually to hearing loss counseling and working with patients to choose the right hearing loss solutions, our team of experienced hearing care clinicians support every aspect of your hearing healthcare. For more information about hearing loss prevention and hearing loss services, contact Physicians Hearing Solutions now.

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