Growing up, how many of us were constantly admonished to “turn that down” be it the TV, our music, or something else? More often than not, the justification was that the loud noise would hurt our ears. In many ways, that advise is actually sound (pun not intended) and not just noise sensitivity on the part of our parents, like we might have assumed. Loud noises, such as fireworks and incredibly-high decibel concerts, are the leading preventable cause of hearing loss. Loud noises such as these, which the average person can expect to experience occasionally in their life, can lead to hearing loss but can loud noises cause ear infections?
Why Loud Sounds Are A Problem
We’ve long known that loud sounds can cause hearing loss, with the loudest of sounds causing it the most quickly. New studies are showing that part of the process for this comes from a build up of fluid in the inner ear. This fluid buildup occurs naturally at noise levels that could be a daily experience for many people. One study, which was conducted on mice, showed that fluid buildup started at around 100 decibels – for reference, that is the noise level of a lawn mower or a motorcycle. This fluid buildup started within hours of the noise exposure.
How This Causes Hearing Loss
How does the buildup of fluid in the inner ear eventually lead to hearing loss? Known as endolymphatic hydrops, it is a condition where nerve damage of the nerves in the inner ear occurs. These inner ear nerves are responsible for sending auditory information to the brain for processing, and if they’re damaged, the result is less information sending which results in the functional experience of hearing loss. That mouse study also showed a link between the fluid in the inner ear and the resulting nerve damage: within a week of the fluid being detected, nerve damage had started to happen, and when researches applied a saline solution to the ear, the fluid decreased and the nerve damage was lessened.
Can This Also Cause Infections?
Generally speaking, when we think about ear infections, the part of the ear we are focusing on is the middle ear. This is where the eustachian tube connects and drains to the back of the throat. Most ear infections are the result of swollen or blocked eustachian tubes that lead to fluid build up in the middle ear. However, fluid buildup in any part of the ear could potentially lead to infection, since ears are warm, moist, and dark – perfect for bacteria.
Trust the Experts at Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions
Need help with your hearing? Clarity Hearing can help. Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions is an independently owned and operated clinic that focuses on quality of care and personalized, friendly service to the surrounding areas of Ellicott City, Catonsville, Columbia. Our Doctors of Audiology are highly trained with advanced degrees and take the time to provide the personalized care and attention that you need and deserve. We provide advanced hearing aid options that are personally calibrated with cutting-edge digital technology to fit your hearing loss, your unique ear anatomy, and your individual listening needs.