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Ear infections

Ear infections happen when germs such as bacteria, viruses or fungi cause swelling and irritation of your ear. They are most common in childhood, and are often passed from one child to another, but they can happen at any age.

Infections of the middle ear are called otitis media, and infections of the outer ear are called otitis externa.

Most ear infections are uncomfortable but not serious. Most will clear up by themselves in a few days. They are unlikely to cause permanent loss or impairment of hearing but you should consult a doctor if you are get infections often.

Ear infections and hearing aids

Infections can be problematic for aid wearers. Swelling in the ear can stop your hearing aid from fitting properly, it can also reduce what you can hear and temporarily change the acoustics of your ear. I’ve had quite a few infections over the years and my hearing is usually reduced for the few days that the infection lasts.

I got my first ear infection during my honeymoon in the Dominican Republic (it was a nice wedding present that stayed with me for a long time). The initial infection was quite severe and I had to visit the local medical center for antibiotics, which luckily cleared it up real quick. It was a brief swim in the sea that gave me the infection.

After that I started to get recurring infections every three months or so – this lasted for a couple of years and it wasn’t until I bought myself a new pair of aids that the infections finally stopped. That may have been coincidence but it seemed as though the bacteria causing the infection lived on my aid’s shell and re-infected my ear every so often and wearing new aids finally stopped it.

Getting rid of a minor infection if you wear hearing aids

If you wear hearing aids and you get an ear infection:

  • Try and let your ears gets as much air as possible. Try and take your aids out a bit more often and let your ears breath. Particularly true if you wear a moulded in-the-ear model of hearing aid that is stopping air getting into your ear and making it sweaty – that’s a great environment for bacteria to thrive.
  • Don’t get your ears wet. That’s advice from the doctor in the Dominican Republic that has stayed with me ever since. Resist the urge to wash your infected ears out. Keep them as dry as possible while infected.
  • Wipe your hearing aids after taking them out.
  • If the infection lasts more than 4-5 days then go see your doctor or get some ear-drops or antibiotics. The cause of the infection will determine the treatment – you can’t treat a viral infection with antibiotics, for example.

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  1. As you know already I’m having problems myself. Mainly with the mastoid, and further trouble with the cause of that, which upset me and why I decided instead of closing my blog, I need to continue writing it. I’m starting to feel better. Must be the antibiotics. But I wonder how long for, before it starts again and causes more trouble.

  2. [...] ear infections are uncomfortable but not serious. Most will clear up by themselves in a few days. They are [...]

  3. Mine was nearly serious the first time in regards to the state I was and so admitted. But but first time and second time my mastoid infection made me loose more hearing.

    I’m hoping after recent events of antibiotics finished, and my recent holiday to Brighton was the boost I needed to fight it. At the moment…. touch wood as they say. I feel great!

  4. Hey Liz,

    Hope yours in finally clearing up – this hot weather can’t be helping. Just been to the doctor’s myself, have an infection in my left ear that didn’t clear up after a few days.

  5. Ahhhh…I’m enjoying an infection myself. Does anyone out there wear their hearing aids while using the antibiotic drops? I’m not sure if it would harm them if I put them in an hour or so after I use the drops. Any experience there? Yes, this lovely hot and humid summer …not!!

  6. Hi Mary,

    If I need to I put my aid back in after the drops have dried out but usually I try not to wear one for as long as possible when I’ve got an infection to give the ear some air.

  7. Hi Steve.

    After that bout of infection in June. I thought the antibiotics really cleared up this time, because I really felt great after finishing them, and along with my holiday it gave me the boost I needed….or so I thought. But as I speak again I’m on more more antibiotics. :(

  8. Hi Steve, I’ve been wearing hearing aids almost all my life, and I’m 67 years old. Was wondering what type of hearing aid molds were your old ones, before you had to buy some new ones, because of recurring ear infections? I recently bought some newer type in the ear molds, the soft plastic type and always had the hard plastic molds. Could it be the new type of plastic they’re using to cause ear infections? Plus the last two sets of molds worn before, had small air vents put in, and this does help let some air in to keep inside your ears dry. Why don’t they keep doing this, we sure need air vents. I’ve been to the dr. and been on four rounds of medication and ear infection keeps coming back. They won’t drain to get rid of the fluid or antibotics (acetasol) can’t go into the main part of your ears. Get one ear almost cleared up and then the other one has it. Finally going to see the ear specialist, April 13th. I’ve never had this recurring problem with ear infection before, been fighting this problem for 1 1/2 months now. I’ll keep you all posted on what they find. Anyway, what kind of in the ear molds did you end up with? Hard or soft?? Thanks for listening.

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