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How an Ear Infection Can Lead to Hearing Loss

Mar 16, 2015 07:23AM ● Published by Amy

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By Dr. Josh Prickett, Medical Director, North Tarrant E-Care Emergency Center

While you might know that an ear infection can become serious enough to result in hearing loss  you might not be aware of exactly how this happens. 

More than likely, you experienced ear infections as a child at one time or another, and if you have kids you have probably seen them go through the same thing. While the vast majority of times this problem does not cause any long-term complications, the potential for severe consequences is there. 

How it Happens
When fluid accumulates in the middle portion of the ear, that can make it hard to hear properly. Think about being underwater and trying to hear and you’ll have an idea what this condition is like. Sometimes, if hearing loss takes place it is only for a short while – once the fluid is drained, everything should go back to normal. However, if ear infections become commonplace, that can lead to permanent damage to the bones, eardrum or hearing nerve.

If your child shows any of the following signs or symptoms, stay on the safe side and take him or her to a doctor for an examination:

• Ear pain that seems to worsen while lying down
• Trouble sleeping
• Balance problems
• Fluid drainage from the hear
• Headaches
• High fever

It will be especially important to seek medical help if the symptoms last for more than 24 hours, there is severe pain, or if you see pus or a bloody discharge coming from the ear.

You should consider seeing a specialist if ear infections occur on a regular basis. An audiologist will be able to determine the seriousness of any potential hearing impairment and be able to diagnose a middle ear problem.

Again, an occasional ear infection, while painful, does not necessarily mean you need to worry about any potential long-term damage. But you should still seek medical attention so you can make sure everything is OK.

If you would like to learn more from doctors near Southlake about reducing your risks of hearing loss due to an ear infection, call E-Care Emergency Centers at 817-281-7277 If you ever need emergency or urgent care, use this convenient form to check in online.

Josh Prickett, MD, is currently medical director for North Tarrant location of E-Care Emergency Center in North Richland Hills. Dr. Prickett graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School and has been practicing emergency care in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Texas since 1989. He has been married to his wife Carin for 30 years. They have a son Jonathan, a daughter Whitney, and a son-in-law John. Dr. Prickett and his family are active in their church and love being a part of the Southlake community. 

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