There are a number of causes of hearing loss including aging, noise exposure, genetics and ear trauma. One of the lesser discussed conditions that may be responsible for hearing loss is meningitis.

What Is Meningitis?Woman covering her face.

Meningitis is a serious condition that occurs when the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord becomes inflamed. This inflammation is usually caused by an infection; rarer causes include brain surgery and lupus.

A headache, fever and stiff neck are the telltale signs of this condition. Additional symptoms of meningitis include:

  • High fever.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Confusion.
  • Seizures.
  • Sleepiness.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Skin rash.

You should seek medical attention immediately if your child exhibits signs of meningitis, as it can be fatal within only a few days without proper treatment.

Common bacteria or viruses that cause meningitis can be easily spread, so you should wash your hands when returning from the Rotary Play Park, practice good hygiene and maintain a healthy immune system through proper nutrition and exercise. The best way to protect yourself is to be vaccinated.

How Common Is Hearing Loss Caused by Meningitis?

According to a study 2010 study called “Hearing Impairment in Childhood Bacterial Meningitis Is Little Relieved by Dexamethasone or Glycerol,” about 30-50% of patients with pneumococcal meningitis experience hearing loss. This number decreases to 10-30% of those with Haemophilus influenzae type B meningitis and goes down even further to 5-25% for those with meningococcal meningitis.

How Meningitis Causes Hearing Loss

The delicate hair cells within the inner ear responsible for converting sound vibrations into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain can easily be damaged either by the bacterial toxins created by antibiotics or cytokines, which are produced by your immune system to help fight off an infection.

Bacterial meningitis can lead to a condition called blood poisoning. Known as septicemia, this condition can cause cell death to occur in the inner ear and auditory nerve.

While these causes would lead to permanent hearing loss, that is not the case for everyone with meningitis. The ear can fill with fluid and makes sounds seem dull. This will usually resolve on its own or through the use of ear tubes.

To learn more about hearing loss caused by meningitis or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact Bountiful Hearing Center today.

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