The cold and flu season is coming. Everyone is familiar with the dreaded symptoms of a cold or flu, but did you know that those symptoms can include hearing loss? The hearing loss associated with a cold or flu generally comes as a result of the congestion build up in the sinuses and ears. Like the other symptoms, the hearing loss is usually temporary but can add to the misery of being sick.
How the Cold or Flu Causes Hearing Loss
Hearing loss when you are sick is not uncommon. When you have a cold or the flu, congestion builds up in the middle ear which makes it hard for the sound waves to travel through the ear. In addition, the eustachian tubes in the back of the throat can become blocked and their function is to help regulate air pressure in the middle ear. Either of these issues can muffle sound and make it difficult to discern speech. Other related ear related symptoms during a cold or flu can include balance problems and/or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The resulting conductive hearing loss usually dissipates along with all the other cold and flu symptoms.
In some very rare occasions, the flu virus can affect the nerves in the ear and cause permanent hearing damage. If you do experience hearing loss during a sickness, keep your doctor or audiologist in the loop, especially if the hearing loss isn’t getting better when other symptoms begin to go away.
Ways to Prevent Hearing Loss if You Are Sick
Of course, the best thing for your hearing health is to never get sick in the first place. However, getting sick is often unavoidable. There are ways to protect your hearing and your ears including taking these steps to prevent getting a cold or flu:
- Get the flu shot to minimize or mitigate symptoms if you do contract the flu at all.
- Take vitamin C and boost your immune system as much as possible.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid exposure to others who are sick.
If you do get a cold or the flu, then you should get tested by your doctor to see if an antiviral prescription can help you or what types of antibiotics or decongestants are best for you. Keeping a virus at bay and minimizing congestion will help protect your ears and your hearing during a cold or the flu.
Hearing, Balance, & Speech Center is Here to Help You with all Your Listening Needs
Have more questions about your hearing? Please contact us at Hearing, Balance, & Speech Center to speak with one of our hearing professionals or schedule an appointment at any one of our 6 convenient locations in Connecticut: Hamden, Waterbury, Norwalk, Wallingford, Branford, or Bristol. We are here to help you and take care of all your listening needs.