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.

 

Swimmers Ear

86519332_XSAs holiday season approaches and people prepare to hit the pool it’s important to watch out for swimmer’s ear.  Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa is an infection in the outer ear canal, which runs from your eardrum to the outside of your head. It’s often brought on by water that remains in your ear after swimming, creating a moist environment that aids bacterial growth.

Putting fingers, cotton swabs or other objects in your ears also can lead to swimmer’s ear by damaging the thin layer of skin lining your ear canal.

Swimmer’s ear is usually treated successfully with eardrops.  The symptoms are usually mild at first, but they may get worse if your infection isn’t treated or spreads.  Prompt treatment can help prevent complications and more-serious infections.

About Swimmers Ear

  • Otitis Externa causes redness and swelling in the external ear canal, which is the tube between the outer ear and eardrum. It’s referred to as swimmer’s ear as repeated exposure to water can make the ear more susceptible to inflammation and infection.
  •  Water clears earwax out of the external ear canal, which can make it itchy. Trying to scratch inside the ear can cause the fragile skin of the canal to break down, allowing exposure to infection. Water also creates a moist environment that encourages bacteria to grow.
  •  Symptoms can include ear pain that ranges from moderate to severe, discharge of liquid or pus from the ear and a degree of temporary hearing loss. It will usually only occur in one ear.
  • With treatment, symptoms will usually clear within two to three days, but in some cases they can persist for several months which is known as chronic Otitis Externa. Painkillers and eardrops are usually prescribed for the condition, but in extreme cases antibiotics may be prescribed.
  • It is recommended to wear a swimmers hat to cover the ears and protect them from water when swimming. It is also important to make sure ear canals are clear of water after swimming, bathing and showering.

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.