There are many health conditions that can increase your risk of hearing loss. Research has indicated that Lyme disease may be one of them.
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, also known as a deer tick. Early signs of infection include a tell-tale bulls-eye rash and fever. Additional early symptoms may include:
- Body aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Neck stiffness
If Lyme disease is left untreated, you may start to experience neurological problems like memory loss, sleep disturbances, meningitis, Bell’s palsy, weakness in your limbs and limited muscle movement.
The Connection Between Lyme Disease and Hearing Loss
A 2018 study of patients with tick-borne illnesses found that many complained of ear-related symptoms. Specifically, out of 216 patients:
- 5% reported tinnitus
- 7% vertigo and dizziness
- 7% hearing loss in one ear (unilateral)
Though the reason why Lyme disease can increase hearing problems isn’t well-understood, it’s important for patients and doctors alike to be aware of the possible connection so that earlier detection of hearing loss may be possible.
Avoid Tick Bites
The best way to avoid hearing loss or other problems stemming from Lyme disease is to try to prevent tick bites in the first place. Ticks live in grassy, brushy and wooded areas. If you like spending time outdoors in places like Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, consider taking the following precautions:
- Use insect repellents
- Walk in the center of trails
- Check your body, clothing and gear for ticks when you return, and remove any immediately
- Examine your pets if they came with you
- Shower shortly after arriving home
If you develop any signs of illness from a tick bite, visit your doctor immediately.
When To See an Audiologist
If you find yourself struggling to follow conversations or needing to turn the television up louder, these may be early signs of hearing loss. Schedule an appointment for a hearing test as soon as possible so that an audiologist can determine if any hearing loss exists and to what extent.
Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. You and your audiologist will work together to find a custom pair that best meets your hearing needs and fits your lifestyle.
If you have additional questions or wish to schedule an appointment, contact Gulf Coast Audiology today.