While exposure to noise and aging are the most common causes of hearing loss, they are far from the only reasons people develop the condition. There are a number of infections that can damage the ear and lead to hearing loss.
Types of Hearing Loss
Different viruses can lead to different types of hearing loss. Typically, hearing loss caused by an illness is categorized as congenital, acquired or both. Congenital hearing loss is something your child is born with, acquired occurs after birth and both means your child is born with a loss and also develops further hearing loss later on.
Congenital Hearing Loss Causes
There are two viruses responsible for many of the cases of congenital hearing loss caused by a virus.
Rubella, also known as German or three-day measles, usually results in a mild illness including a fever, sore throat and a rash. While mild, it can lead to serious birth defects if a woman is infected while she is pregnant. Children born to affected women are at risk of being born with the virus, which can lead to hearing loss 6 to 12 months after birth.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common infectious cause of birth defects in the United States. Symptoms include a rash, jaundice, a small head and low birth weight. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in every 200 babies is born with congenital CMV and one in five with the virus develop hearing loss.
Acquired Hearing Loss Causes
While this type of hearing loss can occur at any age, the following viruses usually affect adults.
West Nile virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the United States. Only about one in five people who are infected with this virus develop symptoms, including fever, disorientation, headache, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, vision loss and hearing loss.
Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) is more commonly known as shingles. This virus can cause issues with the nerves of your face, tongue and auditory canal. Hearing loss is a common symptom of shingles but can usually be reversed with the use of corticosteroids.
Measles used to be responsible for almost 10% of all cases of profound hearing loss in the United States. While the virus was nearly extinct through widespread vaccination, outbreaks have been popping up across the country over the last few years.
Congenital and Acquired Hearing Loss Causes
Herpes simplex viruses, including HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be passed from mother to child in-utero. Adults can also become infected with this virus through contact.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that leads to AIDS. While children can be born with HIV if their mother is infected with the virus, these numbers have decreased with increased testing and the use of anti-retroviral medications.
The best way to avoid becoming infected with a virus that can cause hearing loss is to get vaccinated and follow proper handwashing protocol. When out at Thousand Oaks Community Park or other crowded public places, make sure to wash your hands before eating and avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
To learn more about other less common causes of hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact Decibel Hearing today.