Recurrent ear infections can lead to serious issues, including hearing loss. This is normal with middle ear infections and mild hearing loss, but it goes away when the infection gets better. If the middle ear drum or other portions are injured, repeated ear infections can cause irreversible hearing loss.

What is the link between hearing loss and an ear infection?

You get an ear infection in your middle ear (otitis media). A bacteria or virus causes this part of your ear to swell and fill it with fluid. 

The most typical types of medial otitis include:

  • Acute otitis media. Eustachian tube inflammation can cause fluid to become trapped inside the tube, which extends from the back of the throat to the middle of the ear. This liquid may get infected, leading to pain and edema. This kind of infection can sometimes result in hearing loss.
  • Otitis media with effusion Even after the infection has cleared up, fluid or mucus may continue to accumulate inside the eustachian tube. The fluid buildup may also make it difficult for you to hear well.
  • Chronic suppurative otitis media This kind of infection typically results from continuing acute otitis media. It is characterized by a middle ear discharge that lasts for a long time due to eardrum perforation. It frequently results in hearing loss, particularly in youngsters.
  • Adhesive otitis media This involves the eardrum collapsing and adhering to the middle ear's structures and wall. You may get this condition when the eustachian tube has not been functioning properly for a long time

Babies and young children have smaller eustachian tubes. This makes the fluid difficult to drain out of their ears. This also increases their chances of getting an ear infection. 

If you or your child exhibit any of the symptoms of an ear infection, contact your ENT.

Middle ear infection symptoms

The doctors find it hard to detect the signs of ear infections in infants and toddlers. They are too young to express their condition. If you suspect a child in your care has a middle ear infection, look for the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Constant or frequent pulling or scratching of the ears (signifying discomfort or anguish)
  • Slow response to voices and other noises (signifying hearing difficulty)
  • Irritability or trouble falling asleep
  • Drainage of liquid from the ear
  • These symptoms may also appear in adults, older kids, and adolescents:
  • Persistent ear pain
  • A pressing sensation in the ears
  • Speaking with difficulty
  • Sensations of unbalance or vertigo
  • Nausea or vomiting generally
  • Sometimes, a sensation of double hearing

Since a middle ear infection and its related earache are easily treatable, it is crucial to act soon.

What causes infections in the middle ear?

The majority of middle ear infections occur due to cold and flu infections. This condition causes mucus buildup in the middle ear. A tiny tube (the Eustachian tube) that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose gets swollen.

Because of this, mucus cannot drain correctly, making it easier for an infection to spread into the middle ear.

The adenoid, a soft tissue in the back of the throat, can expand and impede the Eustachian tube. Adenoid removal helps treat ear infections. 

Middle ear infections are more common in young children for the following reasons:

  • Children's adenoids are significantly larger than adults
  • The Eustachian tube is smaller in children than in adults


The majority of ear infections do not have any long-term consequences. Recurrent ear infections may result in severe complications:

  • Hearing impairment. With an ear infection, a little hearing loss that comes and goes is very typical; however, it normally gets better after the infection clears. Repeated ear infections and middle ear fluid buildup could lead to gradual, serious hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss may happen if the eardrum or other middle ear structures sustain any kind of permanent damage.
  • Developmental or speech delays. Infants and toddlers may experience verbal, social, and developmental impairments if their hearing is temporarily or permanently damaged.
  • Spread of infection. Infections that go untreated or do not react to treatment properly might spread to tissues nearby. Mastoiditis is an infection of the bony projection behind the ear known as the mastoid. The infection may cause the bone to deteriorate and develop pus-filled cysts. Rarely, severe middle ear infections can spread to the brain or the membranes that surround it (meningitis), among other tissues in the skull.
  • A ruptured eardrum. An eardrum tear usually heals in 72 hours. Surgery may be required in some circumstances.

Ear infection treatment in children

Your child's doctor will choose a specific course of treatment for otitis media depending on the following criteria:

  • Age, general health, and medical history of your child
  • Size of the problem
  • The level of toleration that your child has for a given medicine, operation, or therapy
  • Prospects for the condition's progression
  • Your preference or opinion
  • Treatment options include:
  • antibiotics administered orally or as ear drops
  • Medication for fever and pain
  • Monitoring
  • A combination of the above

Your child's doctor could advise inserting tiny tubes in the ear(s) if fluid is present in the ear(s) for more than three months and the disease keeps returning despite taking medications. The myringotomy surgical treatment involves creating a tiny breach in the eardrum to drain the fluid and release pressure from the middle ear. To ventilate the middle ear and stop fluid from building up, a tiny tube is inserted into the aperture of the eardrum. After the fluid is removed, the child's hearing is restored. After six to twelve months, the tubes typically come out on their own.


Hearing loss is possible from ear infections. The cause of this is an accumulation of fluid and inflammation behind the eardrum. An ear infection can temporarily impair hearing. Your hearing will probably start to get better as the ear infection starts to go away.

If your hearing loss persists after an ear infection has been treated, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to rule out any underlying medical issues.


1. Are ear infections contagious?

An inner ear infection by itself is not communicable. However, the bacteria or viruses that cause these diseases can spread from one person to another.

2. Are ear infections common health issues?

Ear infections are one of the most common reasons for children to consult a doctor. These infections may vary in seriousness from mild and harmless to extremely dangerous and sometimes fatal.

3. How long does an infection in the inner ear last?

Compared to other ear infections, inner ear infections may last longer. Most inner ear infections disappear in one to two weeks with prompt treatment.