Ear Home > Ear Infection and Hearing Loss

It is possible for hearing loss to be caused by an ear infection, but this problem is usually temporary. However, if left untreated, an ear infection can become more serious and may lead to permanent hearing impairment. Also, children who have frequent ear infections may experience hearing impairment that can contribute to speech and language difficulties.

An Overview of Hearing Loss and Ear Infections

An ear infection can cause temporary hearing problems. Temporary speech and language problems can also occur. If left untreated, these problems can become more serious. An untreated ear infection may lead to permanent hearing impairment.

How Does an Ear Infection Cause Hearing Loss?

An ear infection affects important parts of the ear that help us hear. Sounds around us are collected by the outer ear. Sound then travels to the middle ear, which has three tiny bones and is filled with air. After that, sound moves on to the inner ear. The inner ear is where sounds are turned into electrical signals and sent to the brain.
An ear infection affects the whole ear, but especially the middle and inner ear. Hearing is affected because sound cannot get through an ear that is filled with fluid. Persistent fluid in the middle ear and chronic otitis media can reduce a child's hearing at a time that is critical for speech and language development. Children who have early hearing impairment from frequent ear infections are likely to have speech and language disabilities.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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