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4 Facts About Meningitis: Can It Lead to Hearing Loss?

You probably don’t need to be told how dangerous meningitis can be and there is even the potential risk of permanent hearing loss or, ultimately, a risk to life, if the disease is not assessed and treated promptly.

If you suffer some of the symptoms of meningitis, including the risk of hearing loss or problems caused by a disease such as this, there is the potential prospect of improving your situation with hearing aids that can improve the quality of your life.

Here is an overview of meningitis and a look at how it can potentially lead to hearing loss.

Meningitis explained

The most common trigger that leads to meningitis is when you are affected by a viral infection, although bacterial or fungal infections can also cause you to develop the disease.

The reason it is so dangerous is that the membranes around your brain and spinal cord become inflamed and this can quickly lead to serious complications if urgent diagnosis and treatment take place.

The permanent impact of meningitis can be epilepsy, problems with normal brain functions, and hearing loss.

Age is often a factor and children under five or teenagers are often considered to be the most vulnerable groups although having a compromised immune system also puts you at a higher risk of developing the condition.

How can meningitis cause hearing loss?

As already outlined, meningitis has the capacity to affect your brain and spinal cord and this means that the inflammation can potentially damage the nerves that connect your ear to your brain.

There is also a dangerous scenario where your cochlea could be directly damaged if the swelling manages to spread to your inner ear.

There is a window of opportunity to reverse the hearing loss if meningitis is treated early enough but about one in ten children are believed to suffer permanent hearing damage.

The strongest link to hearing loss

Of the different types of meningitis, bacterial meningitis is most strongly associated with hearing loss.

It is estimated that about a third of bacterial meningitis cases lead to the patient suffering some level of hearing loss.

Spotting the symptoms

The key to trying to prevent meningitis from causing permanent damage to your hearing and causing other medical problems is to spot the symptoms and act as a matter of urgency in seeking medical help.

Classic symptoms associated with meningitis include severe headache, vomiting, noticeable sensitivity to light, and the development of a rash or developing a high fever within a very short space of time.

It is imperative that you seek immediate medical attention if any of these symptoms are present and you suspect that meningitis might be the cause.

Strong antibiotics are one treatment option, except when it is viral meningitis, although there is a risk that their potency could cause hearing loss too. Talk to a medical professional about the implications of ototoxic medications.

It should be remembered that hearing aids can offer some help with meningitis-related hearing loss and modern technology now offers hope that a remedy can be found in a large number of scenarios where a patient has suffered some degree of hearing loss.

The impact of meningitis can be devastating and it is a disease that has to be treated with maximum respect and urgent action if you or a loved one develop any worrying symptoms.


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