People often wonder 'does an ear infection cause hearing loss'? The answer is, yes it can. There are several ways in which this can happen.
1) Blockage of the ear canal. Infection of the outer ear canal can create discharge and dead skin build-up. This stops much of the sound energy reaching the eardrum. Hearing is muffled. Outer ear infection such as swimmer's ear can be prevented by wearing a good pair of molded ear plugs. Our ear plugs make a good choice because they are comfortable so do not intrude on what you are doing. If plugs are uncomfortable people tend not to wear them. ZenPlugs are also antibacterial as well as being great at blocking sound and water from your ears.
2) Middle ear effusion. If the Eustachian tube which normally drains the middle ear becomes blocked, it stops draining. Fluid builds up in the middle ear and can become infected. If this happens sound does not reach the inner ear from the ossicles. This is because the fluid stops the eardrum moving properly, dampening it. This reduces the sensitivity of hearing.
3) Eardrum damage. In the short term, the ear drum may burst, resulting in a tear or hole. This reduces the ability of the eardrum to pick up the sound vibration. Occasionally these holes do not heal or the drum becomes scarred. This can result in permanent deafness. Sometimes a repair is possible by a skilled Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon.
4) Inner ear damage. Sometimes a severe or deep infection can result in hearing loss. If infections are not diagnosed or treated as an early stage then nerve damage can occur. This can also occur with meningitis.
Make sure you visit your GP if you think you have an infection or other problem. This article does not constitute medical advice.
Dr Toby Bateson