Meningitis affects more than millions of people every year. There are some infections which cause hearing impairment at any age, bacterial meningitis is one of them. There is more than 30 percent of bacterial meningitis cases which leads to hearing loss at some degree from mild to profound hearing impairment.
In a 2006 study, the Gallaudet Research Institute reported that 3.2% of American youth with hearing loss had suffered meningitis, making the infection the second most common cause of hearing loss.
Meningitis deafness is a disease which can be spread by physical contact. In meningitis deaf, membranes become inflamed which surrounds the brain and spinal cord. There are many of the meningitis cause deafness cases, which are caused by a viral infection. Fungal and bacterial infection are other causes.
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Although, some of the cases of viral meningitis hearing loss doesn’t require any kind of treatment and they itself show improvement in a few weeks. Still, they are cases of meningitis deafness which can be life-threatening and demand emergent antibiotic treatment.
Symptoms of Meningitis
The Symptoms of meningitis include:
- Quick, high fever
- Cerebral pain
- Stiff neck
- Affectability to light
- Altered mental state
How does Meningitis cause Hearing Loss?
Meningitis occurs due to inflammation of the internal parts of the ear. The inflammation can destroy all of the parts of your ear and also cochlea. which is responsible for sending the sound information or signals to your brain. After the inflammation or swelling in your ear, the transformation of sound waves can disable and you can’t hear any sound.
This type of hearing loss occurs very fast. Meningitis inflammation can reoccur again in 2 days if left untreated then it could be ossified the cochlea or converted into a bone with some time. Ossification is soft tissues that become hard or converted into bones and at last stops working. Ossification occurs in 21 days of infection and 34 % of people having Meningitis lose their hearing because of Ossification, according to research.
In addition to hearing loss, tinnitus and balance problems can result from meningitis.
Sources of Meningitis
The sources of Meningitis can be bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic.
Viral meningitis occurs most often and can cause fewer lasting hearing consequences. As meningitis can strike at any age, senior citizens and people under 20 years old are at the highest risk and are most adversely affected.
In most cases (except for viral meningitis), extremely powerful antibiotics are given to patients to cure them of meningitis, and often, save their lives. However, just as meningitis can cause hearing loss, the very antibiotics used to cure it can cause hearing loss as well.
In bacterial meningitis, steroids are also used to treat neurological damage and prevent long-term problems such as blindness and hearing loss. New treatments include injecting steroids directly into the inner ear to improve hearing preservation.
Meningitis-related hearing loss can happen due to the following reasons:
- The death of nerve endings (hair cells) in the cochlea (auditory portion of the inner ear), which leads to mild-to-medium hearing loss.
- Physical damage to cochlea itself, which can lead to severe-to-profound hearing loss
How meningitis related hearing loss can be treated?
You may go through the following treatment methods for hearing loss caused due to meningitis.
- Visit hearing specialist for hearing evaluation.
- You may refer to strong antibiotics and steroids for treating bacterial and viral meningitis.
- If you are suffering from mild hearing loss, hearing aids will be the best option.
- In case of severe hearing loss due to meningitis, an audiologist will suggest cochlear implants for you.
Hearing loss is a medical problem that may require medicinal consideration, so it is essential not to avoid it. Consult your doctor or audiologist for medical help.