There are many causes of hearing loss, and some are more prevalent than others. We’ve previously talked about the relationship between the heart and hearing loss, and how heart disease can reduce blood flow to the ears and damage the auditory system. We have also discussed diabetes and hearing loss, and learned that high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and nerves throughout your body, ears included.
We recently covered tinnitus and Covid-19, one of the viruses that can make an already existing condition of tinnitus, a symptom of hearing loss, worse. From the common cold to insect-borne infections, there are several viruses that can have a negative effect on our hearing health. As your audiologist in Omaha, NE, we wanted to give you everything you need to know about viruses and hearing loss. Below are some common viruses and how they relate to hearing loss.
The common cold
You may notice a problem with your hearing either during or after you’ve been sick. In some cases, it can take up to 10 years for you to tie your hearing loss back to an infection. The common cold is the most common virus linked to hearing loss and tinnitus. Children are especially vulnerable to hearing problems after having a middle ear infection during a cold.
Several viruses can cause a cold, including rhinovirus, adenoviruses and enteroviruses. Sinus and bacterial infections resulting from a cold cause fluids and mucus to build up behind the eardrum. When this happens, one may experience pain and muffled hearing. The silver lining to these hearing loss symptoms caused by the common cold is they are usually temporary.
After recovering from the coronavirus, many people who have already experienced symptoms of tinnitus report that the ringing in their ears becomes worse. With this, it’s hard to determine if a new condition of hearing loss has developed or if there is just more awareness of an already existing case of tinnitus. Stress from the coronavirus pandemic also plays a role, and extreme stress can be another contributor to tinnitus.
Childhood viral infections
Childhood viral infections such as meningitis, CMV, chickenpox, measles and mumps can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus. Before vaccinations, some of these were the culprit of many childhood hearing loss cases. These viruses cause our immune systems to respond, and some of the ways in which our bodies respond can lead to inflammation of the inner ear, thus causing hearing loss.
The virus that causes chickenpox, varicella zoster, can also go dormant for years and then flare up in the inner ear. When the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain flares up, it’s called Ramsay Hunt syndrome. You may remember that pop star Justin Bieber recently opened up about his experiences with this syndrome. Although rare, enough damage to this nerve can take a while to recover from.
Insect-borne infections like Lyme disease and Zika virus are transmitted through mosquitoes and ticks. It’s uncommon, but there have been cases in which a symptom of Lyme disease can be sudden hearing loss. In the patients who have experienced hearing loss along with Zika virus, most recover but it is hard to tell what the long-term effects are.
Visit an audiologist in Omaha, NE
It’s important to visit an ear specialist when experiencing any symptoms of hearing loss, especially if you begin to experience them while you’re sick. Your audiologist in Omaha, NE, can assess the degree of your hearing loss and determine if you need hearing aids or another treatment option. Contact us today if you or a loved one have hearing loss.