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05.05.2014
This 1-minute video gives a quick overview of the anatomy of hearing, and the causes and types of hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss is caused by any condition or disease that blocks or impedes the movement of sound through the outer or middle ear. Generally, we can treat the cause of a patient’s conductive hearing loss, giving them complete or partial improvement in hearing. A mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and a sensorineural hearing loss in the same ear. Just as with all other aspects of human biology, there is a broad range of Eustachian tube function in children- some children get lots of ear infections, some get none. Allergies are common in children, but there is not much evidence to suggest that they are a cause of either ear infections or middle ear fluid. Ear infections are not contagious, but are often associated with upper respiratory tract infections (such as colds).
Acute otitis media (middle ear infection) means that the space behind the eardrum - the middle ear - is full of infected fluid (pus). Any time the ear is filled with fluid (infected or clean), there will be a temporary hearing loss.
The poor ventilation of the middle ear by the immature Eustachian tube can cause fluid to accumulate behind the eardrum, as described above. Ear wax (cerumen) is a normal bodily secretion, which protects the ear canal skin from infections like swimmer's ear.
Ear wax rarely causes hearing loss by itself, especially if it has not been packed in with a cotton tipped applicator. In the past, one approach to recurrent ear infections was prophylactic (preventative) antibiotics.
For children who have more than 5 or 6 ear infections in a year, many ENT doctors recommend placement of ear tubes (see below) to reduce the need for antibiotics, and prevent the temporary hearing loss and ear pain that goes along with infections. For children who have persistent middle ear fluid for more than a few months, most ENT doctors will recommend ear tubes (see below). It is important to remember that the tube does not "fix" the underlying problem (immature Eustachian tube function and poor ear ventilation). Adenoidectomy adds a small amount of time and risk to the surgery, and like all operations, should not be done unless there is a good reason. In this case, though, the ventilation tube serves to drain the infected fluid out of the ear.


The most common problem after tube placement is persistent drainage of liquid from the ear. In rare cases, the hole in the eardrum will not close as expected after the tube comes out (persistent perforation).
I see my patients with tubes around 3 weeks after surgery, and then every three months until the tubes fall out and the ears are fully healed and healthy.
If a child has a draining ear for more than 3-4 days, I ask that he or she be brought into the office for an examination. Once the tube is out and the hole in the eardrum has closed, the child is once again dependant on his or her own natural ear ventilation to prevent ear infections and the accumulation of fluid. About 10-15% of children will need a second set of tubes, and a smaller number will need a third set. Children who have ear tubes in place and who swim more than a foot or so under water should wear ear plugs.
Deep diving (more than 3-4 feet underwater) should not be done even with ear plugs while pressure equalizing tubes are in place.
Ear aches are often a sign of a greater problem – an excess pressure buildup behind the ear drum, or an ear infection. New patients coming to Emerge for a speech evaluation also get a hearing test for this very reason. Because of the wide spectrum of possible causes an extensive range of audiological investigations may be necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.
While this might have been true many years ago, with modern advances in technology, nearly 95% of people with a sensorineural hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids. It is not the hearing aids that make one look older, it is what one may believe they imply. It uses animation to help you understand how you hear, and what may be happening when your hearing is no longer top-notch. It is commonly a viral cause but if the symptoms persist for more than a couple of days a course of oral antibiotics may be beneficial. Ear infections are caused by many factors, but the most common causes are allergies and the common cold.
Some symptoms they may show are changes in sleep patterns, pulling at ears, or walking off balance. When ear infections occur, they can cause temporary hearing loss, making things sound muffled or as if you are under water.


If a patient is exhibiting delays or difficulties with their speech, it’s important to make sure that problem isn’t actually stemming from a hearing issue, so we can treat the true source of the problem.
Since most people with hearing impairments hear well in a quiet environment like a doctor’s office, it can be virtually impossible for your physician to recognize the extent of your problem.
If you miss a punch line to a joke, or respond inappropriately in conversation, people may have concerns about your mental acuity, your attention span, or your ability to communicate effectively. If hearing aids help you function like a normal hearing person, for all intents and purposes the stigma is removed. The ear needs to be kept dry and no objects should be put in the ear to relive the itching as this can worsen the condition.
Since multiple untreated ear infections can cause permanent hearing loss, it’s important to address any signs of an ear ache, especially with our little ones!
The inside of our ears are designed to allow normal bodily fluids to drain into the back of the throat through the Eustachian tube.
Normal speech and language development depends heavily on a child being able to hear sounds and repeat them. Without special training and an understanding of the nature of hearing loss, it may be difficult for your doctor to even realize that you have a hearing problem. It also reduces the intensity of sound, but may also result in a lack of clarity even when sounds, particularly speech, are loud enough. Our lead Audiologist, Nicole Stockstill, has written this week’s blog on how we get ear infections and what kind of effects they have on us.
When this tube gets clogged or blocked, fluid collects behind the ear drums and if it stays in the ears long enough, it can become infected. After repeated ear infections in a short amount of time, the physician may recommend Pressure Equalization Tubes to help keep the excess fluid from building up behind the ear drum.
For a child with chronic ear infections, their hearing is distorted and speech sounds cannot be interpreted properly, thus the child cannot reproduce the sounds properly. At a simplistic level, untreated hearing loss means giving up some of the pleasant sounds you used to enjoy. We can treat patients with sensorineural hearing loss with amplification through hearing aids.



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