Certain health conditions that threaten your hearing and overall health are unavoidable, but others can be stopped. A good preventative measure is to take steps to make sure all of your vaccinations are still good. Get new vaccinations or boosters as prescribed by your physician. Below are six common conditions that put your hearing at risk and can be prevented by getting the proper vaccinations. Consult your physician for more details.
1. Pneumonia (pneumococcal disease) and hearing loss
More than just your lungs can be affected by pneumonia. Pneumococcal bacteria causes more than half of all middle ear infections. The worst forms of the bacteria are responsible for permanent hearing loss. Thirteen forms of the bacterial infection are avoided with the conjugate vaccine. For adults 65 years or older, or for those under 65 with a weakened immune system, the PCV13 vaccine works well as a preventative tool. Protecting you against 23 forms the bacteria is the PPSV23, and this vaccine is for adults 65 or older with a higher risk of getting the infection.
2. Meningitis and hearing loss
Hearing loss can be caused by the bacterial form of meningitis. Inflammation to the cochlear nerve can damage it. The cochlear nerve conducts sound from the ear to the brain for processing. Meningococcal conjugate and serogroup B are two vaccines recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to protect at-risk adults. Consult your physician to see if you are at risk for meningitis if you are entering the military, planning to travel overseas, or diagnosed with an immune deficiency. However, contracting meningitis is not limited to these groups.
3. Measles/mumps/rubella and hearing loss
Partial or complete hearing loss can be caused by the measles. Rubella, also known as the German measles, can cause women, during the early stages of pregnancy, to pass the virus to the fetus. It can lead to birth defects, including deafness. Conversely, damage to the inner ear or cochlea can occur with the mumps viral infection and can lead to hearing loss or deafness in one or both ears.
The vaccine recommended for children between the ages of 12 and 15 months, with a second dose at ages four to six months, is the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) type. Adults who were born in or after 1957 who were never vaccinated should get one or more doses of the MMR vaccine, unless there is certainty the vaccine was received as a child or all three diseases were contracted at some time. It is important to talk to your physician about the MMR vaccine, especially if you are planning to travel abroad.
4. Whooping cough (pertussis) and hearing loss
Whooping cough can cause irreversible hearing loss. The first round of the five-dose DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccine should have been given to you at the ages of two, four, six, and 15. Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) is a booster available for adults and adolescents who didn’t get the DTaP series vaccine. Also, the Tdap vaccine should be given to pregnant women between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. In addition, a Td (tetanus and diphtheria) vaccine should be given to adults every 10 years, even if the DTaP and Tdap vaccines and boosters were given.
5. Chickenpox (varicella zoster) and hearing loss
The hearing of both children and adults can be damaged by the chickenpox virus. The resurfacing of chickenpox as the shingles or Ramsay Hunt Syndrome in adults who had chickenpox in their childhood years could cause hearing loss. For children, adolescents, and adults, two doses of the varicella vaccine are recommended. Ask your doctor if you got the measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (MMRV) vaccine between the ages of one and 12 years old. If you are over 60 years old, regardless of whether or not you had the chickenpox, the shingles vaccine (brand name Zostavax®) is recommended.
6. Flu (influenza) and hearing loss
The flu can cause temporary hearing loss due to congestion, but you will recover from the hearing loss once you are better from the flu. But if the virus attacks the ears directly, it can result in sudden and sometimes permanent hearing loss. There are many types of the flu. The H1N1 virus (swine flu) and H3N2 (dog flu) are just two types of the various strains of the flu. The CDC calculates the risk of contracting certain types of the flu each year, recommending the proper vaccinations. Basically, though, a flu vaccination should be given to everyone six months or older at the beginning of every flu season. The flu season starts in the fall and goes through winter. A single shot consisting of quadrivalent and trivalent is often available to combat multiple flu viruses.
All of the conditions above are a concern in terms of potential hearing loss. Consult your hearing instrument specialist at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for more details.