Many viruses cause unpleasant, but ultimately mild symptoms like a sore throat, cough and runny nose. A few days spent resting at home and getting soup brought to you from Plates and Palates should be enough to have you on the mend.
However, other viruses are much more serious and have the potential to cause long-term side effects. Some viral illnesses can even cause hearing loss whether congenital or acquired. Let’s examine some of the viruses that pose a threat to you or your child’s hearing, as well as what you can do to prevent them.
Viruses That Cause Hearing Loss
- Rubella (German measles): If a mother comes down with Rubella during pregnancy, her child is at risk of obtaining the congenital form of the virus.
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV): A common virus responsible for most non-genetic cases of sensorineural hearing loss in infants and children. Signs of hearing loss can often occur after an infant completes their standard hearing loss test. If you know your child was infected with CMV, continue to monitor them for symptoms of hearing loss.
- HSV Types 1 and 2: This can cause both congenital and acquired hearing loss. Children can be infected in-utero if their mother is positive for the virus.
- Measles: Before vaccines became available measles were responsible for a significant amount of acquired hearing loss. In areas with lower vaccine rates, or places where outbreaks occur, it can still cause hearing problems.
- Mumps: Belong to the same family of viruses that includes measles. With mumps, hearing loss can sometimes be reversed with a quick diagnosis and treatment. In other cases, it is permanent.
- West Nile Virus: Transmitted through insects, mainly mosquitos. Thankfully, hearing loss is a rare side effect of the illness, but it has been known to happen.
- Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV): Belongs to the herpes family. It can cause issues with the nerves of the face, auditory canal, and tongue. Occasionally, hearing loss caused by VZV can be reversed with corticosteroids and other medications.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): HIV kills T-cells and makes those who have the condition more prone to many different infections. Hearing loss is a common side effect of HIV, particularly among children.
How to Take Precautions Against Viral Infections
Some viral cases of hearing loss are hard to prevent, especially in congenital cases where the mother isn’t aware she is carrying the virus or if adults are unaware that they are carrying a virus with mild symptoms. However, several of these viruses can be prevented by vaccines and virtually erase the risk of you or your child developing hearing loss from it. In cases where a vaccine is available, we urge that you and everyone in your family become immunized.
It’s also important to seek prompt treatment for you or your child if you experience any symptoms of sudden hearing loss, such as:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Fullness in the ear
- A sudden loud “pop” in the ear, like what you’d experience with a change in pressure
- Muffled hearing upon waking or when trying to use the telephone
Your doctor will work to determine what is causing your hearing loss and recommend the appropriate treatment. Studies have shown that antiviral therapy is effective in treating sudden hearing loss. Often, the sooner treatment is administered, the better the outcome.
If you have additional questions or wish to schedule an appointment, call the experts at Bountiful Hearing Center today.