Viral infections can cause hearing loss. Viral infections can directly injure inner ear structures, induce inflammatory responses, or increase susceptibility to bacterial and fungal infections leading to hearing loss. The loss of hearing that is a product of viruses can be congenital or acquired, unilateral, or bilateral. Sensorineural hearing loss is most common, although conductive and mixed hearing loss is also possible. The good news is that many of these viruses are preventable.
Viruses And Hearing Loss
No single virus causes hearing loss, and everyone’s experience is unique. A hearing loss can result from a childhood infection or an episode later in life. There is no guaranteed way to avoid hearing loss, but vigilance and symptom recognition can prevent the spread of these viruses. Of course, an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment are necessary, so it is crucial to know what kinds of viruses cause hearing loss.
Children who have congenital viruses are at high risk for hearing loss. A few of these congenital viruses include:
- German Measles or Rubella. An infection transmitted through fluids, this RNA virus can cause hearing loss 6-12 months after birth.
- This DNA virus is responsible for the majority of non-genetic sensorineural hearing loss in infants and children.
- Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis. This virus transmits through contact with rat feces, urine, and saliva.
Congenital And Acquired Hearing Loss Viruses
Children and adults who have sensorineural hearing loss can get the following viruses, which can cause congenital and acquired hearing loss after the infection. These include:
- HSV Types 1 & 2. Adults can acquire this one through contact while children can acquire it in-utero.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). A well-known RNA virus that can develop into AIDS and other conditions.
Acquired Hearing Loss Viruses
This group includes those viruses that cause acquired hearing loss. Acquired hearing loss is a form of hearing loss that occurs in older adults who do not have a congenital infection. These viruses include:
- West Nile Virus. A well-known RNA virus that transmits through insects.
- Varicella-Zoster Virus. A DNA virus that affects the nerves of the face, auditory canal, and tongue.
- An RNA virus that accounts for many cases of profound hearing loss.
- An RNA virus that causes sensorineural hearing loss.
There are no guaranteed ways to prevent hearing loss. However, you must get tested regularly and stay vigilant regarding your health. It is crucial to get yourself and your child vaccinated. A single case of mumps or measles can cause acquired hearing loss. Even if your child recovers from measles, immunodeficient children remain at risk. Protect your ears! Avoid spending lengthy amounts of time in noisy environments and always use protection where indicated. You can’t prevent hearing loss, but you can protect yourself from it.
If you have a hearing loss, it is critical to seek treatment as soon as possible. Untreated hearing loss can quickly become detrimental to your overall health. Schedule a hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment.