Expert Talk: Viral And Bacterial Infections May Lead To Hearing Loss

Do not ignore persistent itch in ears as this could be a sign of ear infections. Read more details in this article.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: Aug 12, 2022Updated at: Aug 12, 2022
Expert Talk: Viral And Bacterial Infections May Lead To Hearing Loss

Have you ever felt that you are hearing less when you are suffering from extreme cold? This can be due to infection in the middle ear which causes inflammation and fluid build-up in the area behind the eardrum. Hearing loss has multiple causes and viral and bacterial infection is just one of them. As per Dr. Anish Gupta, Department of ENT at the CK Birla Hospital (R), Gurugram, most viral infections have the potential to damage the hearing capacity of a person. These viruses can cause unilateral or bilateral, congenital, or acquired hearing loss. Many of these ear infections are caused by viruses that harm the cochlea, ear blood vessels, or other hearing-related organs.

Ear infections can be acute or chronic. Acute ear infections are painful but short in duration. Chronic ear infections are recurring in nature.

Some of the common viral and bacterial infections of Ear are:

Labyrinthitis

The labyrinth is the structure in the inner ear that comprises narrow fluid-filled channels. This region can become infected with virus or bacterias..Labyrinthitis only affects one ear and symptoms of this infection include temporary or permanent hearing loss, ringing in the ears, tinnitus, pain, and dizziness. Hearing loss can be prevented with timely intervention.

Vestibular neuritis

Vestibular neuritis is a viral illness that affects the vestibular nerve. This nerve helps in maintaining balance because it connects the anterior ear's semicircular canals to the brain. A vestibular infection can develop after or during typical viral diseases such as flu, fever, or sore throat. Vestibular neuritis symptoms can be mild to severe and typically harm balance, physical stability, and cause hearing loss. Steadiness, imbalance, nausea, vomiting, loss of attention, and vision issues are among the symptoms.

Hearing Loss

Acute otitis media

Acute cases of otitis media are episodes of middle ear infections. The most frequent illness affecting newborns and young children is acute otitis media, which is caused by cold or other viral respiratory infection. They are also more common in children who suffer from allergies or enlarged adenoids, which can inhibit proper functioning of the auditory tube. As many as 30% children can have 2-5 episodes of acute otitis media in their early life.

Autoimmune disease

Autoimmune inner ear disease is a rare disorder which presents with unilateral or bilateral, fluctuating or progressive hearing loss.

Treatment options for ear infections

Treatment of ear infection depends on the diagnosis.

Acute Otitis media - One or two episodes of acute otitis media can be treated with antibiotics. But if episodes recur then the child should be evaluated essentially for adenoids by an ENT specialist. Some children do require certain procedures or surgeries to avoid future complications. Procedures include Adenoidectomy

Chronic supportive otitis media - It usually presents with holes in eardrum, recurrent ear discharge, hearing loss, vertigo and sometimes bone involvement also. Medical treatment is given for acute infection and definitely treatment includes tympanoplasty with mastoidectomy.

Inner ear infections include labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis and sudden hearing loss. The treatment involves antibiotics, steroids and labyrinthine sedatives .For sudden hearing loss the gold started treatment is transtympanic injection of steroids with success rate of almost 80% is reported within 3 days.

Another option for the patients is myringotomy operation. A tiny hole is made in the eardrum during this treatment to allow fluid to drain and to ease pain. Within a few days, the wound is fully healed. Surgery to remove the adenoids may be advised in situations where they are enlarged.

Hearing Loss

Preventive measures for ear infections

There is no sure way to avoid infection, but some of these ear viral infections can be prevented or treated.

Vaccination

Ensure that kids have received all recommended vaccinations for viral and other illnesses for those 6 months of age and older as ear infections can be avoided by avoiding viral and other illnesses.

Quit smoking

Both nicotine and carbon monoxide reduce oxygen levels in the blood and narrow blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the inner ear. The neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve are also thought to be interfered with by nicotine and tobacco smoke. If a person experiences hearing related problems, quitting smoking should be the priority as it will quickly improve the ear health.

Keeping allergies in check

Allergies affect the outer, middle, and inner ears, these can also cause infections, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, and itching, pressure, or fullness in the ears. To prevent ear problems, keeping allergies in check through timely medications is recommended.

Cleanliness

As such, the ear does not require cleaning. One should avoid using sharp, iron objects and even earbuds as these can lead to severe bacterial infection.

Image credits- freepik

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