Northeast Atlanta ENT is your best choice for hearing aids, tinnitus treatment, hearing loss tests and balance disorders.
The hearing specialists at Northeast Atlanta ENT (with locations in Lawrenceville, Dacula/Hamilton Mill, and the Johns Creek/Suwanee GA area) can help you.
As people age, gradual hearing loss happens. Some people may not even be aware they are experiencing hearing loss. There are many reasons that people experience hearing loss, including:
In order to receive the proper treatment for hearing loss, our audiologists (hearing doctors) need to perform certain tests, evaluate your symptoms, and review your medical history. Treatment for hearing loss will depend on the diagnosis.
Hearing is a very important part of daily life. It is an intricate and complex process. To begin understanding how hearing works, you need to know that the ear consists of 3 sections:
These 3 parts work together to process the sounds you hear. The outer ear, which is the part of the ear you can visibly see, will pick up the sound waves and direct them into the outer ear canal.
The sound waves then travel all the way down the ear canal until they hit the eardrum which causes the eardrum to vibrate. When the eardrum vibrates, it moves three tiny bones in the middle ear.
These three bones form a chain; they are called the anvil (or incus), the stirrup (or stapes), and the hammer (or malleus). The movement of the three bones will transmit and amplify the sound waves toward the inner ear.
The 3rd bone in the chain (the stapes), will interface with fluid that fills the hearing portion of the inner ear (called the cochlea). The cochlea is lined with cells. There are thousands of tiny hairs on each cell’s surface.
The fluid will travel through the cochlea and the tiny hairs will begin to move. The hairs will change the mechanical wave into nerve signals. Lastly, the nerve signals are transmitted to your brain, which interprets the sound.
Pretty amazing, right?
When the middle ear becomes inflamed, it is referred to as otitis media. Acute otitis media is the condition that occurs when an abrupt infection happens. The accumulation of pus and mucus behind the eardrum is caused by:
This accumulation blocks the Eustachian tube when someone has acute otitis media. Symptoms can include earache and fever.
If fluid sits in the middle ear for weeks at a time, otitis media with effusion will occur. This condition typically happens when a patient is recovering from an ear infection. It is possible for the fluid to remain in the middle ear for a period of weeks to many months, and it’s very important to get it treated right away. Left untreated, chronic ear infections have potentially serious implications such as temporary hearing loss.
We will start by talking about the Eustachian tube— a narrow channel which connects the inside of the ear to the back of the throat. It is located just above the soft palate and uvula.
The Eustachian tube allows for the drainage of fluid from the middle ear. Draining the fluid will help to prevent build up and help to prevent the build up from bursting the thin ear drum. The Eustachian tube maintains the middle ear pressure, which is equal to the air outside of the ear. This enables free eardrum movement. In normal function, the tube collapses most of the time. This will prevent germs (residing in the mouth and nose) from entering into the middle ear.
When an ear is healthy, the fluid will drain down in the Eustachian tube, which gets assisted by the tiny hair cells and gets swallowed.
However, when the Eustachian tube fails to do its job, a patient may experience an ear infection. if the tube becomes partially blocked, the fluid will accumulate in the middle ear. This will cause the bacteria (already present) to get trapped and then multiply. In addition, during the process of the air in the middle ear space escaping into the bloodstream, a partial vacuum is formed. This vacuum will begin to absorb even more bacteria from the nose and mouth into the ear regions.
Getting back to the primary question—-why do children get more infections than adults?
When patients have been diagnosed with a middle ear infection or if they have fluid build-up, they will likely also experience some degree of hearing loss.
The short answer is yes. There are several reasons why children and adults experience temporary hearing loss, including:
Patients often wonder whether a hearing test should be performed when it is related to frequent infections or fluid. The short answer is yes.
Hearing tests should be performed for children who: experience frequent ear infections, have fluid in the middle ear for more than 3 months, or experience hearing loss that lasts more than six weeks.
Our audiologists typically use state-of-the-art medical devices (tympanometer, audiometer, otoscopy) to test your hearing, the flexibility of the ear drum, and the Eustachian tube function.
If you would like to get your hearing tested and receive proper treatment with any of our professional audiological services, call our Northeast Atlanta ENT hearing clinic today. We can schedule an appointment at any one of our office locations — Johns Creek/Suwanee, GA, Hamilton Mill/Dacula, GA, or Lawrenceville, GA.
We look forward to solving your hearing loss problems.