As warmer weather starts to increase across the country, so too does the population of ticks. This increase in ticks, specifically deer ticks, can lead to an increase in Lyme disease; which, in addition to its many other symptoms, can lead to sudden hearing loss and tinnitus.
When a deer tick bites a human there is an exchange of fluids. The fluid transmitted by the tick sometimes has bacteria that can cause the human to develop Lyme disease. This first sign of Lyme disease, usually a rash, is followed by a series of increasing physical problems. Sometimes these symptoms—tiredness, joint pain, fever, fatigue, and flu—are weak enough that a person may not know they have Lyme disease. As the contaminants continue to spread through the body causing increasing neurological problems, they can begin to affect hearing and cause sudden sensorieneural hearing loss or tinnitus.
Sudden sensorieneural hearing loss (SSHL) is an unexpected loss of most or all hearing in one or both ears occurring within 3 days or less. This hearing loss can be temporary if treated properly or permanent in left untreated. In addition to sudden hearing loss, someone with untreated Lyme disease may experience a change in hearing called tinnitus. Tinnitus is the experience of having a buzzing, whistling, whining, or ringing sound in the ears when no sound is present. Below is a video of what tinnitus can sound like.
Both of these conditions—sudden hearing loss and tinnitus—can be helped with immediate treatment. The issue arises when treatment is delayed because a person or their physician does not recognize that they have Lyme disease. Lyme disease symptoms mimic other disease. In these cases, treatment is delayed and sudden hearing loss or tinnitus may become permanent. In addition to seeing your physician to make sure you get properly tested for Lyme disease, don't forget to make an appointment with you audiologist. An audiologist can help to improve hearing lost to Lyme disease.
If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!