Being infected with the mumps can last for a couple of weeks, but there are lifelong side effects - specifically for your hearing health. There has been a rise of this virus since 2015. In the winter of 2019, an onset of this virus in the Northeastern region of the U.S. urged public health officials to advise parents to vaccinate their children and themselves in order to slow down the spread of this disease.
The mumps are part of the same family of viruses that are known to produce measles and a number of respiratory infections.
It can quickly spread from person to person via infected saliva - so when a person coughs or sneezes. It usually takes up to two weeks for a person to show signs of illness after they’ve been exposed.
The symptoms of Mumps
What complications can occur?
Other than hearing loss, the mumps can lead to inflammation and swelling in the brain (including membranes and fluid around the brain and spinal cord), breasts, ovaries, pancreas and testicles.
Most of these problems are very uncommon.
How can the mumps induce hearing loss?
Hearing loss is one of the more startling symptoms of the mumps. It’s still uncertain as to how exactly mumps cause hearing loss. Some specialists believe that it can lead to a damaged cochlea - the snail-shaped structure inside your ear that stores the stereocilia and stria vascularis. The stereocilia, A.K.A. the tiny hair cells, convert sound waves into nerve impulses. The brain then interprets those signals as sound. The stria vascularis circulates blood to the inner ear. The auditory nerves may also become damaged, which can affect a person’s ability to hear.
Anyone who experiences hearing loss due to side effects of mumps probably have sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss usually occurs in one ear, which is known as unilateral hearing loss or single-sided deafness (SSD). Normally, this type of hearing loss is reversible, but if left untreated it can become severe and permanent. A child can lose most of their ability to hear in one ear.
Measle and rubella may also induce sensorineural hearing loss. Healthy hearing can’t be restored, but there are ways to help with hearing and communication:
Hearing aids: These devices might be useful if you experience mild-to-moderate hearing loss. A hearing instrument specialist can help you choose the best hearing aid style and brand that works best with you and your lifestyle.
Bone-anchored hearing devices: These could be a possible solution if you experience SSD. This is a surgically embedded electrode array device that circumvents the damaged cochlea, and creates a direct stimulation of the auditory nerve.
American Sign Language (ASL): This is a language that has its own grammar and syntax. It utilizes body language, facial expressions and hand gestures.
Cued speech: This is a type of sign language that utilizes hand gestures and mouth shapes.
Hearing loss that is caused by mumps is uncommon. Studies show that 1 - 4% of those who are infected with mumps end up with hearing loss.
Prevent the Mumps
The best way to prevent getting the mumps is through immunization. Discuss vaccinations for your children and adults in your family who haven’t had the mumps yet and have not received a vaccination - or are in need of a booster shot. Mumps is a disease that arises during childhood. Parents are recommended to get their children immunized between 12-15 months of age, a booster shot at 4-6 years of age and another booster during their teenage years.
The vaccine is usually given to a child three times - around a child’s first birthday, when they reach kindergarten, and again during high school or college. The final booster is vital. Studies have shown that anyone who only had one or two mumps vaccines were at higher risk of getting the mumps than those who received all three boosters.
Anyone who was born prior to 1957, and has not had the mumps should talk to their primary healthcare physician about receiving an immunization, particularly if they are frequently in a high-risk environment - like a hospital or school, or near the epicenter of a current mumps outbreak.
Do you speculate about hearing loss?
If you, or a family member, are experiencing hearing loss, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a free hearing test and consultation. We offer a variety of hearing aid devices from top name brands.
Please be aware that Pure Sound services will only be available by appointment and for essential visits at this time. Essential visits include all appointments that require new hearing aid fittings, repairs and re-fittings. We ask that you please wait in your car, while wearing your mask, and place your hearing aids in a clean zip lock bag. We will come to your car to get them. If you are having any issues with your hearing aids, or an assistive listening device, please contact us before visiting one of our office locations.