Can my child lose hearing from an ear infection?Ear, Nose & Throat Children’s Health
My 4 year old son has had multiple ear infections. When he is having an infection, he seems to have trouble hearing. Could this lead to a permanent loss of hearing in future?
thanks for the D2D.
Whether your child is at risk of permanent loss of hearing with recurrent ear infections, really depends on what part of his ear keeps on becoming infected. If it is the outer ear canal which becomes infected, then any swelling of the skin will temporarily block his ear and lead to hearing loss but this usually returns once the outer ear infection resolves.
However, if it is the middle ear that keeps on getting infected, basically eardrum-related infections, then there is a (small) risk that this might lead to a permanent hearing loss in the future. Usually, eardrum infections give rise to a temporary and reversible conductive type of hearing loss, due to infected fluid trapped behind the infected eardrum.
This usually recovers once the eardrum is no longer infected. Sometimes, even when the eardrum infection resolves, there may still be some thick mucus fluid called “glue” filling the middle ear, leading to a mild conductive hearing loss. Once this fluid is drained, the hearing usually returns to normal.
The real worry though is that recurrent ear infections leading to a buildup of pus (frank infected yellow liquid behind the eardrum, see picture) can potentially spread to the inner ear where the delicate hearing organ (cochlea) lies. If the inner ear becomes infected, then there is a risk of permanent severe hearing loss, as well as dizziness, vertigo and balance issues.
Dr Annabelle Leong
MBBS (Hons)(London), BSc (Hons), DOHNS (England), FRCS-ORLHNS (England)
Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital
38 Irrawaddy Road, #07-46/47
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