Aside from the more obvious causes of hearing loss, i.e. earwax, infection, a trapped foreign object or the flu, there are a somewhat surprising retinue of diseases that can also cause temporary or permanent hearing loss.
Whilst some of these may only affect a tiny minority of people, it’s nevertheless important to keep them in mind if you’re worrying about your hearing. Thanks to the miracle of modern vaccines, much of the following conditions are now almost unknown, however, there’s always a small chance that either you or someone you know might be affected.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the conditions that can also cause hearing loss:
In many cases, hearing loss can be passed down generation to generation. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is a malformation of the inner ear that is passed from parent to child.
At the moment of conception, genetic mutations, although rare, can happen more often than you might think. Some key examples of this include osteogenesis imperfecta (also known as brittle bone disease), Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome, a condition which affects around 1 in 3,000 pregnancies) and Treacher Collins Syndrome.
Prenatal Disease Exposure
Certain diseases can affect babies in utero and cause them to have hearing loss or deafness, including: Rubella, German measles, influenza and mumps. There are also certain extraneous forms of exposure that are said to cause hearing problems, most notably contact with methyl mercury and quinine.
An inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, meningitis can be a sudden and often debilitating condition which is known to cause serious adverse effects including hearing loss. If you often feel sick, have a continual headache, stiff neck and have a strong dislike of bright lights, it’s well worth checking in with your doctor to see if you have it. In addition, a rash (that doesn’t go away) is not uncommon.
Part of the herpes family, CMV often manifests as a mild, flu-like illness that can last only a few days or weeks. However, it’s affects shouldn’t be overlooked, as it can cause substantial hearing loss, and is particularly dangerous to those susceptible to the condition, such as people with auto-immune conditions, unborn children, transplant patients and pregnant women.
Also known as varicella, chickenpox is a highly infectious viral disease that most people encounter over the course of their lives. Perhaps surprisingly, this blistering skin condition can also cause hearing problems (as well as a whole host of other complications if left untreated, particularly at a later age).
Jaundice occurs when the skin or the whites of the eyes turn yellow due to an overabundance of the substance called ‘bilirubin’, a naturally-occurring chemical compound used to clear aged or abnormal red blood cells. Although most often found in newborn children, jaundice can happen to anyone at any age, but is normally the side-effect of another underlying condition such as liver dysfunction.
A rare condition that effects the inner ear, Ménière’s is an incurable disease but its symptoms can be managed with adequate provisions like prescription drugs. Since it closely affects the ears, onset deafness and hearing problems are, unfortunately, extremely common for those that have it.
If you have any of the above conditions, then do not hesitate to get in touch with your doctor and they will book you in immediately to see a specialist. The sooner that diseases like these are identified, the less likely you are to suffer their myriad complications, including hearing loss.