You know that advancing age and noise exposure can cause hearing loss, but did you know that certain infections can too?
According to one review, “Typically, virus-induced hearing loss is sensorineural, although conductive and mixed hearing losses can be seen following infection with certain viruses.” Sensorineural hearing loss refers to hearing loss caused by nerve damage, while conductive hearing loss is caused by a physical blockage that prevents soundwaves from passing through the ears. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive losses.
Below we review some infections that can cause hearing loss.
This is the most common infection linked to hearing problems. When you have the common cold or similar respiratory illness, the body’s inflammatory response causes fluid to build up behind the eardrum, which can cause muffled hearing.
Sometimes a secondary bacterial infection can occur after you clear a cold, which can cause similar symptoms within your auditory system. Children are especially susceptible to middle ear infections (otitis media) because their Eustachian tubes – which connect the middle ear to the back of the throat and allow fluid to drain – are shorter and more horizontal than adults’.
Swimmer’s ear is an infection that develops in the outer ear canal when water remains in the ear, in many cases after swimming, and bacteria begins to grow in it. In addition to hearing loss, swimmer’s ear can cause redness, itchiness, pain, drainage, swelling, feeling of fullness and fever.
Though it’s not common, COVID-19 has been linked to audiological problems such as hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and dizziness. In most cases, it is a late symptom rather than an early symptom.
Childhood Viral Infections
Many childhood viral infections such as meningitis, cytomegalovirus (CMV), chickenpox, measles and mumps are linked to hearing loss. This is why it’s important to get vaccinated.
Insect-borne infections such as Lyme disease and Zika virus are also associated with hearing loss.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Hampton Roads ENT ~ Allergy today.