While the occasional ear infection is rarely a cause for concern, chronic ear infections can be painful, frustrating and even potentially lead to hearing loss.
If you have a child who suffers from regular ear infections, read about the ways to treat them and help prevent permanent damage.
Symptoms of a Chronic Ear Infection
Chronic ear infections have the same symptoms as acute ear infections, though the symptoms might be less severe and come and go. They include:
- Ear pain or pressure
- Low-grade fever
- Pus-like drainage from the ear
- Fussiness in infants and younger children
- Hearing loss or muffled hearing
The Connection Between Chronic Ear Infections and Hearing Loss
While acute ear infections can cause hearing loss due to the buildup of fluid in the ear, hearing returns to normal as the infection clears. However, research suggests that chronic ear infections can cause damage to the ears resulting in permanent hearing loss.
Researchers examining the connection between chronic ear infections and hearing loss administered hearing tests to 123 patients with unilateral chronic otitis media. They found a highly significant association between chronic ear infections and sensorineural hearing loss.
Finding the Cause of Chronic Ear Infections
Knowing what’s causing chronic ear infections can help determine what treatment options are best.
Infants and toddlers are more prone to chronic ear infections because their Eustachian tube is smaller and not fully functional. In these types of cases, doctors will often recommend ear tubes to help drain fluid from their ears and prevent future infections. This is a safe surgical procedure, and the tubes usually fall out on their own within a couple of years.
Chronic sinusitis and allergies are two other risk factors for chronic ear infections. Treating them can reduce the number of ear infections you or your child experience.
- Sinusitis: Can be treated with antibiotics. However, you do want to avoid antibiotic resistance, so prevention methods like irrigating the sinus passages with saline wash can help as well.
- Allergies. Can be treated with medications, either over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor and filled at Reidville Road Pharmacy or other local drug stores. Other treatment options may be avoiding exposure to allergens when possible or immunotherapy in the form of allergy drops or shots.
If you would like more information about how to treat chronic ear infections or wish to make an appointment with one of our experts, contact Spartanburg | Greer ENT & Allergy today.