According to statistics, millions of Americans suffer from hearing loss. Despite the various reasons and the degree of hearing loss, they are united by one thing, namely, great difficulties, arising due to the inability to hear normally. Of course, modern medicine can easily help such people.
However, preventing hearing loss is a better option than spending a lot of time and effort recovering lost abilities.
We believe that every American should be aware of the underlying causes of the disorder to minimize their impact to stay healthy for as long as possible.
What viruses cause hearing problems?
A person with normal hearing can distinguish between 5- 20 decibels of sound. For example, such quiet sounds as breathing. Since, in most cases, hearing loss develops slowly, the person usually can’t notice the initial stages of the problem. As a result, the patient loses precious time by seeking help from the doctor too late.
What are the first causes of hearing loss that come to mind?
Prolonged exposure to noise
Head or auditory injuries
Drug side effects
Many viruses cause hearing loss too! Nothing can be done about age-related changes, but it’s quite possible to defend yourself from dangerous infections and consequences. Protect your hearing!
You might be surprised, but infections affecting different parts of the ear are one of the common causes of temporary or permanent hearing loss. Under the age of 15, infectious diseases rank first among the causes of hearing loss that could be prevented (30% of all cases).
Depending on the infection route, three main types of viral diseases lead to one or another form of hearing loss.
Congenital viral infections
This type of infection is the most common cause of hearing impairment. The child becomes infected during the prenatal stage of development. Viruses that impair hearing first enter the mother’s body, and then, through the placenta, are transmitted to the child. This group of infections includes:
The infection is not dangerous, but very often, if acquired in utero, causes hearing loss in children between 6 and 12 months of age
Cytomegalovirus infection (CMV). It causes pathological changes in the organ of hearing and other pathologies in newborns
Some viruses can lead to problems and even profound hearing loss, not only with intrauterine infection but also with infection during childbirth. For example:
Herpes simplex (HSV) type 1 and 2
Human immunodeficiency (HIV), which weakens the body’s resistance to opportunistic infections. Hearing loss is a common side effect
Viruses causing acquired hearing loss
Some viruses, when transmitted from a carrier, cause pathological changes in the human auditory organ, both in childhood and adulthood. Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro identifies the following infections that are most common among patients:
Chickenpox, which damages the external auditory canal
Sensorineural hearing loss often develops, up to complete hearing loss
The infection causes hearing impairment in 10% of Americans with the condition
West Nile virus causes reversible hearing impairment that resolves over time without medical intervention
The virus infects not only brain cells but also hearing organs
Surprisingly, complications from this infection, which comes to the United States every year, often lead to serious hearing problems
The listed viruses cause sensorineural hearing loss, i.e, structural changes in the hearing organ, which lead to a deterioration in its functioning. Such changes are often irreversible.
The latest data show that COVID-19 in some cases also harms our hearing, causing deafness. This fact is quite relevant in the last few years of epidemics and lockdowns.
Viruses, cause a sudden hearing loss
Sudden hearing loss is a specific form of sensorineural hearing loss, characterized by rapid development and dangerous complications. The problem usually develops in one ear and indicates the need for immediate contact with an audiologist. If time is missed, complete one-sided deafness can develop!
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss occurs either immediately or within a few days. Many Americans mistakenly confuse such hearing impairment with earwax blockage, sinusitis, or seasonal allergies and don’t visit the audiologist in time, believing that everything will go away on its own. This is a big mistake, which leads to serious consequences.
Sudden hearing loss differs from other types of disorders in several ways at once – rapidity of development and idiopathic nature. This means the spontaneous occurrence when the cause of the disease remains unclear. In cases where the etiology of sudden hearing loss is not clear, a viral infection may be the cause! Sudden hearing loss often occurs with colds. What else should you know about viral causes of hearing loss? The virus often damages hair cells and/or cause localized circulatory problems.
How can you prevent hearing loss?
Unfortunately, today no tool would 100% protect your hearing from various external influences, including viruses. However, you may prevent hearing loss by monitoring your health and taking preventive measures.
Annual hearing testing
Get your hearing checked at least once a year. Thanks to this, you’ll be able to track the deterioration and get help in time. Modern technologies make this process as easy as possible. Use our online hearing test at any time convenient for you. It’ll immediately show the presence or absence of a problem for further action.
Reliable and effective vaccines have been developed and are widely used against most viruses that cause hearing loss. The most effective measure to prevent the development of deafness is the mass vaccination of children against measles, mumps, and other viral infections.
Examination of pregnant women
Prevention of congenital infections by a thorough examination of women during pregnancy is equally important. The expectant mothers must clearly understand the danger of viruses and voluntarily undergo an examination to identify them. Keep your kids safe!
Examination of children who are prone to hearing loss
Prevention of hearing loss should also include examination of children from the first days of their life. It is necessary to conduct clinical studies for the early detection of dangerous viral infections and the timely implementation of appropriate therapy. If there is a risk of developing deafness, the child should undergo regular audiological examinations.
Often, virus infection occurs against the background of a general decline in immunity. Quitting bad habits, exercising, reducing stress, and eating right will boost your mood, strengthen your immune system and improve your overall health.
A viral infection provoking pathological changes in the organ of hearing is dangerous for people at any age. Some infectious diseases can be asymptomatic or disguised as a common cold, which is why a person does not notice a serious health problem for a long time. Don’t waste time if you notice the first symptoms of hearing loss in yourself or a loved one. Contact experienced doctors immediately. Audiology Island will help you overcome any difficulties!
About Dr Zhanneta Shapiro
Dr Zhanneta Shapiro received her Masters of Science from Brooklyn College in 2005 and completed her Doctorate of Audiology from Florida University in May 2008. Her graduate training was in various hospitals in the tri-state area and a residency period completed at Ear Nose and Throat Associates of New York. [ Learn More ]