When Shingles Leads to Hearing Loss

Hearing-LossShingles is a nervous system disease caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox; it is not a rash or skin infection. The virus can lie dormant in the body’s nerve cells for years in those who’ve had chickenpox; when it reactivates, it spreads down the nerves into the skin.

Hearing loss most often accompanies shingles when the rash forms on the head and face around the ear. About one-third of people who have the shingles rash and blisters near an ear will have a hearing problem due to the infection.  The hearing loss can be temporary, permanent, or even result in deafness.  Typically only one ear is affected.

The two most common conditions that connect hearing loss and shingles are:

 

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Ramsay Hunt syndrome occurs when a shingles infection affects the facial nerve near one of your ears.

Symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

  • Painful rash on the eardrum, ear canal, earlobe, tongue, roof of the mouth (palate) on the same side as weakness of the face
  • Hearing loss on one side
  • Sensation that you or your surroundings are spinning (vertigo)
  • Weakness on one side of the face
  • Paralysis of one side of the face

Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear.  The inner ear houses the organs of balance and hearing.  Shingles can cause labyrinthitis either through direct viral infection or by subsequent bacterial infection that occurs as the blisters begin to heal.

Symptoms of Shingles-Related Hearing Loss

  • Decreased hearing or deafness
  • Intense and severe ear pain
  • Tinnitus (ringing or other strange noises in your ear)
  • Sensation that you or your surroundings are spinning (vertigo)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

You are more likely to have fewer long-term side effects from shingles if you begin receiving treatment within a few days of your first symptoms. About 70 percent of those with shingles make a full recovery if they’re treated early.

If you delay getting to the doctor, your chances of not suffering any long term side effects falls to about 50 percent. In some cases, the hearing loss will be permanent due to damage to the nerves or to the structures of the inner ear.  If you are experiencing symptoms associated with shingles don’t wait to seek medical attention.

 

 

With over 25 years’ experience in hearing healthcare, Hidden Hearing is committed to providing the most professional hearing healthcare service to its customers. Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.

 

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