Shingles is a fairly common virus for anyone who has ever suffered from the chicken pox. The virus can reappear in older adults due to their weakened immune system, but it can appear in anyone. While doctors aren’t sure what causes shingles in some and not in others, they do know that shingle can have negative side effects on hearing. Shingles and hearing loss are most commonly connected when the virus appears on the head, face, or neck region.
Shingles can lead to hearing loss due to a few reasons. The most common reason is due to an infection from a rash or blisters close to the ear, in some cases this form of shingles related hearing loss can be reversed. However if shingles is not treated quickly, it can cause permanent hearing damage. Roughly 50% of people who delay seeking treatment for their shingles will develop permanent hearing loss. Another reason a person can develop hearing loss from shingles is due to Ramsay Hunt syndrome which affects the facial nerve near the ear. Shingles affects nerves cells but typically it is treated with antiviral medicine and nasty side effects are avoided. However, in some cases when the shingles virus happens to appear in the facial nerves, a secondary ailment can be developed which is called Ramsay Hunt syndrome, This is extremely rare in children and is seen mostly in people over the age of 60. Ramsay Hunt syndrome can cause permanent nerve damage in the face and in the ear, leading to hearing loss if left untreated or if not treated quickly enough. The first step to avoiding shingles or Ramsay Hunt related hearing loss is to get the shingles vaccination. The vaccination reduces your risk of experiencing shingles and therefore helps you prevent any shingles related hearing loss.
If you’ve experienced any hearing loss from shingles, you can contact the hearing professionals at Whisper Hearing. We can help you determine the best course of action for your hearing loss and will help you find the best hearing aid for your needs and budget. Find us throughout the San Francisco Bay area and Greater Sacramento area and schedule your appointment by calling or filling out our online appointment request form.