What is temporary hearing loss – some common occurrences

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Temporary hearing loss can be caused by several conditions, including infection and an accumulation of ear wax. In most cases, the condition is treatable, and your hearing will return to normal in time. Your hearing can impact your ability to engage in conversation and feel connected to the world. If you experience a sudden or temporary hearing loss, consult an audiologist to find the best treatment plan.

Here are some common occurrences that can lead to temporary loss of hearing.

Middle ear infections

Ear infections are very common, particularly in young children. Middle ear infections happen when the space behind the eardrum becomes filled with fluid and gets infected. The fluid puts pressure on the ear structures and impacts your ability to hear clearly. Ear infections can be excruciating but should only cause a minor loss of hearing over a short period.  

Antibiotics are usually given to treat middle ear infections. You should complete the entire course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better after a few pills.

Exposure to loud noise

You should always wear ear protection when you are around extremely loud noise. Excessive noise can damage the tiny hair cells inside the inner ear, which detect sound waves and transmit signals to the brain. It can be more severe on one side, depending on where the loud noise comes from. 

Your hearing should recover pretty quickly. However, if you are consistently exposed to loud sounds, you may develop noise-induced hearing loss. Always wear ear protection at concerts, firework displays, or shooting ranges. Turn down the volume on your headphones if you start to experience muffled noises and ringing in your ears. This is called tinnitus and is often caused by frequent exposure to loud sounds.

Accumulation of ear wax

Ear wax is good for your ears – most of the time. It traps dust particles and stops them from reaching the eardrum. Ear wax falls out of your ear canal on its own – but it can become impacted and stuck in the ear canal. The blockage can stop sound waves from travelling down the ear canal to the eardrum. You can experience sudden hearing loss and a little pain. 

If you think your hearing loss is caused by a build-up of wax, get an appointment with your doctor to flush it out. Avoid using a cotton swab in your ear or any at-home treatments. 

Swimmer’s ear

Swimmer’s ear is common and typically feels itchy, painful and like your ears are full. After you have been swimming, water may still be in your outer ear canal. It can be very painful and can also be caused by cleaning your ear canal with hair pains and cotton swabs. Antibiotic drops are prescribed to treat this condition. 

Protect your ears and seek medical advice if you experience a sudden loss of hearing. 

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