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 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.


Today is National Music Day!



Today is National Music Day and if you’re a lover of all sorts of music – or in fact any sort – today is worth clearing your diary for.

Lots of different free music events will be taking place all over the country as part of the love:live music celebrations to mark the day but remember to enjoy the music for years to come you must protect your hearing.

Here’s a taster of what to expect…


  • Opera in the Park at Merrion Square with The Marriage of Figaro, presented by the Culture, Recreation and Amenity Department, Dublin City Council.


  • In association with the OPW, love:live music’s national partner Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann stage a highlight performance at Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green bandstand featuring musicians and traditional dancers led by Kieran Hanrahan.


  • Alliance Francaise in Dublin and the Embassy of France present Soul Square, a world renowned rap-slam group from Paris with support by Workin Class Records and First Music Contact.


  • National Music Day at Christ Church Cathedral celebrates the spirit of collaboration in music and performance, with a diverse and exciting line-up of inspired pairings from Ireland, including some very special guests. The project, a collaboration between Christ Church Cathedral and LeCool Dublin, is all about the connections and relationship set in the majestic surroundings of Christ Church Cathedral.


  • National Chamber Choir in partnership with the Association of Irish Choirs and the Contemporary Music Centre will host a series of exciting pop-up events across Dublin.


  • The Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania present the 20 members of traditional folk music and dance group Lietuviskas Dobilas in Meeting House Square at 7pm.


  • OuterSpaceways Inc. and their followers will pay tribute to the legendary jazz bandleader Sun Ra through a series of guerilla performances around Dublin culminating in a performance at Meeting House Square, Temple Bar.


  • Ennis loves live music presents Clare Connections featuring Lunasa.


  • Irish Chamber Orchestra Sing Out With Strings 5th anniversary concert in University Concert Hall, Limerick, featuring 300+ students aged 4 to 14 from schools around the city.


  • RTE National Symphony Orchestra and young European guest soloists’ open rehearsal in the National Concert Hall.


  • Choral gathering in Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin, to which anyone interested in joining a pop-up choir at lunch-time is more than welcome to do so. No previous choral singing experience is necessary, and the bigger the choir, the bigger the fun!

Other event highlights include:

  • The Dublin City Council’s Dublin Street Music Programme – a day long busking event.


  • Music City! A day long celebration of music through free live events as part of Derry City of Culture.


  • Na Piobairi Uilleann’s series of Try the Pipes performances and workshops in shopping centres around Ireland, and jazz/hip-hop improvisers.


  • Mixtapes from the Underground at the Wellington Weekender Festival in The Workman’s Club in Dublin.

To find out more and for a full list of all events registered across the country, log onto www.lovelivemusic.ie

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.


Deaf to the dangers of loud gym music?

Sonic doom: pumping up the volume can result in permanent hearing damage

Sonic doom: pumping up the volume can result in permanent hearing damage

A paper titled Noise levels in fitness classes still too high was published in the Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health last month. As its title suggests, it backs up what many of us have long hypothesised – that sound levels in high-intensity gym classes are often way too high.

85 per cent of instructors found loud music motivating, whereas about one-fifth of clients found it stressful. 

As part of the study, noise levels were tested during 35 low-intensity and 65 high-intensity classes in 1997-98 and again in 2009-11. The study assessed noise levels at four different gyms. Permission was obtained from the management and instructors of the participating gyms to measure noise levels during selected classes and questionnaires distributed to clients and instructors.

Instructors and clients were asked about their preferred music volume levels and whether they found loud music “stressful” or “motivating”. Turns out, instructors prefer much higher volumes than clients for high-intensity classes. In both studies, about 85 per cent of instructors found loud music motivating, whereas about one-fifth of clients found it stressful.

Noise levels in both time periods were similar, averaging at about 93.1 decibels. Noise levels in low-intensity classes dropped from 88.9dB to 85.6dB. Happily that means classes like yoga are getting quieter, and given their very nature that makes sense, but sound levels in, for example, spin classes, are still spinning out of control.

The author of the paper, research psychologist at the National Acoustic Laboratories, Elizabeth Beach, says it’s time for more awareness around the issue. “Fitness class providers are trying to make their classes like nightclubs to entice people in the doors which is not necessary,” she says. “Another strategy could be to vary tempo as opposed to turning the volume up to dangerous levels.” For young people the damage is often done during their leisure time when they listen to loud music on electronic devices or visit nightclubs or live concert venues. Often the damage is done,and because hearing issues often don’t materialise until later in life, people tend to put off worrying about it.

Those who have complained about decibel levels at my gym many times, in particular in instructors’ spin classes, only to be told to “wear ear plugs if you can’t handle it”. Question is, if members do develop hearing problems in the future could these matters be ones for the courts to handle? Do gyms have a duty of care to members?

 A rule of thumb is that if you think the music is way too loud then it probably is.

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 http://www.hiddenhearing.ie.


Busting a few myths about hearing loss

Hearing loss affects only older people. While one third of the people over 60 have a hearing loss, 65% of all people with hearing loss are below 64 years of age.

With hearing loss becoming increasingly prevalent, we set out to uncover some myths commonly found around the topics of hearing loss, hearing care and hearing aids. Strap on your helmet and let’s dive into a round of solid “mythbusting”.

1. Cleaning my ears with cotton swabs is good for my hearing. Most still hear the voice of their moms telling us to clean our ears with a cotton swap. This can do more harm than good, since there is a risk of the eardrum getting damaged. Contrary to common belief, ear wax actually has a beneficial function: it contains beneficial oils that lubricate and protect the skin of the ear canal. It also traps dust and other particles and keeps them from reaching the sensitive eardrum. If you feel that you have excessive earwax to the point that it affects your hearing, we recommend you to visit a doctor.

2. Hearing loss affects everyone equally. Men are more likely to exhibit hearing loss than women, making up 60% of all hearing impaired. While there are multiple factors, it is often attributed to more exposure to stress, an increased likelihood of noise at work, higher incidence of head injuries.

3.Hearing loss affects only older people. While one third of the people over 60 have a hearing loss, 65% of all people with hearing loss are below 64 years of age.

4. The implications of wearing a hearing aid are worse than not having one. Not following the key part of a discussion, or not being able to laugh at joke for the nth time or having the “what?” and “huh?” as part of your standard vocabulary, make an untreated hearing loss far more apparent than a hearing aid. Isolation and a dent on your self-esteem are only the mild implications; studies have shown that there is a clear correlation between untreated hearing loss and dementia and/or depression. Don’t let vanity get in the way; there are people with far more limelight exposure who have acknowledged and treated their hearing problems.

5. Hearing Aids are massive, bulky and clearly visible. They used to be – a long while ago. Nowadays, hearing aids are tiny  and fit almost invisibly behind the ear or invisible in the ear canal. In fact, you probably haven’t noticed the vast majority of people who wear modern hearing aids.

6. Hearing aids will make everything louder, but not “clearer”. Historically this has been a common concern with older analog devices. However, modern hearing aids have evolved substantially over the last 5 years due to the introduction of digital technology and better signal processing software. This means that noise cancellation algorithms inside the hearing aid are constantly working on filtering out noise and feedback. This is particularly relevant when understanding speech in noisy environments, like for example in a restaurant.

7. Hearing loss affects only a small proportion of the population. Really? Think again. Hearing loss is the 3rd most prevalent condition after cardiovascular disease and arthritis. It affects approximately 1 in 9 people.

8. Hearing loss is unavoidable, it’s partly genetics and everyone eventually gets it That’s a pretty fatalistic view. While heritage can play a role, there are a lot of things you can do to delay hearing loss or avoid it altogether. You can start by protecting your ears from continuous exposure to loud sounds, altering your diet, quitting smoking and generally leading a more balanced life.

A few tips to help combat hearing loss

Listening to music players to loud can cause hearing damage

It is an “invisible injury” but no less painful. Besides the loss of one of our five senses, hearing loss also implies serious difficulties for us to interact and understand others.

This condition in our listening skills increases with age and can become irreversible. But with the noise pollution today, young people are at high risk: high music to expose their ears is one reason why your hearing is increasingly damaged.

To protect the health of your ears, heed the following advice.

Avoid loud noises. Whenever you can, tries to get away from them. Close your car windows when driving, do not stand next to the speakers at a concert or in clubs and out for lunch in those restaurants where you can converse without raising your voice.

Limit your exposure. If it is unavoidable to be around loud noises, try to limit the amount of time your ears are exposed to them. The higher the decibels of sound, the less time we should be exposed to it so that our hearing is not damaged.

To give you an idea: a normal conversation is 55 to 65 decibels, the noise of traffic from 70 to 85, live music clubs and restaurants from 90 to 110 and an ambulance siren 120.

Protect yourself. From noise above 85 decibels, it is recommended that the ears are protected. We are talking, for example, when you are exposed to constant noise of a lawnmower, use of drills and power tools.

Control the volume when listening to music or watching television. Blaring headphones are harmful to our hearing just as much as the stereo or TV at high volumes. In these cases, the ideal is to choose the volume level that it was maintaining a normal conversation (without raising his voice) with someone three feet away.

Rest your ears. Just as a wound needs to heal, our ears need a break if they have been exposed to loud sounds. Therefore, the next day at a rock concert, do not expose yourself where you know there will be much noise. If your routine involves constant exposure to high volumes, seeks to take a few minutes of silence.

See a doctor and get checkups. It is important to keep your hearing under the supervision of experts. If you notice that you no longer hear as before, consult your doctor.

If you have any questions about learing loss contact Hidden Hearing