What infections are linked to hearing loss?Audiology by Accent
Many different types of infections can cause damage to the inner ear and cause balance problems, tinnitus, and hearing loss. While some people might recognize their hearing problems resulted from a recent illness, others might suffer hearing problems without knowing that they had infections. In these types of cases, the hearing problems might be the first sign that something is wrong. Some instances of hearing loss can also be traced back to infections that occurred decades before because of a dormant virus’s reactivation. For example, the virus that causes chickenpox can be reactivated and cause nerve inflammation of the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain. This condition is rare and is known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which was recently in the news after pop star Justin Bieber stated that he suffered from it.
How Infections Might Affect Your Hearing
The inner ear contains delicate structures that must be kept in balance. Even a slight upset to the inner ear can affect your sense of balance and hearing. Bacteria and viruses can cause infections in the inner ear, or they can cause infections in other areas of the body that lead to inflammation that affects the inner ears. Infection-based hearing issues typically only affect one ear. In most cases, the issues are temporary. However, they can be permanent in some cases. Here are some common types of infections that can affect your hearing.
Respiratory Illnesses and Hearing
Respiratory illnesses are the most common types of infections that cause hearing problems. Even the common cold can interfere with hearing, which is especially true among young children who have a higher risk of suffering infections in the middle ear following colds. When you have a cold, your body’s inflammatory response can cause mucus and fluid to build up behind your ear drum. This can result in muffled hearing and pain because of the pressure. Bacterial sinus infections can have similar effects. These types of hearing problems are typically temporary.
COVID-19 and Hearing
COVID-19 has been linked to inflammation and infection of the ear, resulting in tinnitus or hearing loss. There have been some reports that the COVID-19 vaccinations might cause tinnitus, but this link is still being researched.
Viral Infections During Childhood
Several childhood infections can cause balance problems, tinnitus, and hearing loss, including congenital cytomegalovirus, meningitis, measles, chickenpox, and mumps. However, childhood vaccinations can help to prevent many of these types of infections. Some of these types of infections are re-emerging in the U.S. with a drop in the overall adherence to recommended vaccination schedules, however.
Insect-Borne Illnesses and Hearing
Ticks and mosquitoes can carry certain germs that might cause hearing loss. For example, Lyme disease and the Zika virus have both been associated with hearing loss.
Sudden Hearing Loss
Some people suffer sudden hearing loss in one ear that doesn’t have a recognized cause. If you suffered a sudden loss of hearing, you might have a viral infection that you are unaware of. You should see a doctor immediately for an evaluation and treatment.
Labyrinthitis is widespread inflammation that occurs in the inner ear. It can cause tinnitus, vertigo, and hearing loss. In some cases, labyrinthitis can be caused by the reactivation of a dormant virus.
Overreaction of the Immune System
Some cases of hearing loss can be caused by an overreactive immune system. When this happens, the immune system attacks healthy tissue. This is called an autoimmune disease, and some types of autoimmune diseases might involve an attack on the tissues of the ear.
Certain medications are ototoxic, which means that they can cause hearing damage. Certain antibiotics called aminoglycosides can cause hearing loss. If certain types of painkillers used to treat earaches are improperly taken, hearing problems can result.
Get Help From Audiology by Accent
If you are experiencing hearing problems following an illness, you should talk to the audiologists at Audiology by Accent in Gainesville, Florida. Contact us today for a consultation at (352) 271-5373.