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Sinus Problems Related to Hearing Loss

Sinusitis is the infection that affects the para-nasal sinuses known as the sinus cavity. These are the cavities located in the bones near the nose and between the eyes. Sinusitis may be caused due to allergy, common cold or bacterial, viral, and fungal infection. In some cases, tooth extraction or certain dental procedures may also lead to sinusitis.

There are two type of sinusitis, acute and chronic. Typical symptoms of a sinus problem include nasal congestion, runny nose, sinus headaches, and coughing. Could sinus problems cause hearing loss? Yes, acute sinusitis may result in sinus related hearing loss. However, the condition does not lead to complete deafness and the hearing becomes normal once acute sinusitis is cured. On the other hand, chronic sinusitis generally results in temporary hearing loss which may develop into a permanent condition. This happens when chronic sinusitis leads to other complications such as ear infection.

Sinus related hearing loss happens when the infection spreads to the ear, especially when it affects the middle ear. Hearing is affected when pressure gets applied on the eardrums due to inflammation of the sinuses. The pressure develops due to discharge of fluid from different parts, including the sinuses. When this fluid builds up behind the ear drum, the Eustachian tube from the throat to the middle ear gets blocked and becomes swollen. This leads to pressure on the eardrum leading to pain and hearing loss.

In most cases, hearing is restored when the fluids drain away and subsequently the sinusitis is cured. In young children, the ear is not developed enough to drain off the fluid, hence the fluid remains in the ear even after the infection is over. There may be further accumulation of fluid leading to rupture of the eardrum resulting in permanent hearing loss. Sinus related hearing loss may also crop up if the ear infection is not treated, damaging the small bones present in the middle ear.

Sinus related hearing loss can be completely avoided by treating the sinus infection before it spreads to the ears. Sinusitis is diagnosed by physical examination of the symptoms and X-ray of the para-nasal cavities. In some cases, CT scan may be recommended to judge the extent of the infection. Doctors may also test the fluid in the ears to detect the type of infection and provide medication accordingly.

Treatment methods may be surgical or medical depending on the extent of the problem. Initial treatment includes medication such as antibiotics along with anti-histamines and analgesics. Steam inhalation may be recommended to relieve nasal congestion. If treated early, the risk of permanent damage to the ear can be effectively reduced.

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