Can the flu impact your hearing?
The winter season brings a lot of great things; the holiday season, cosy moments with friends and family – maybe even snow. But often a familiar unwelcome acquaintance also pays a visit during the colder months: the flu.
Most people would argue that having the flu is annoying. You might have a cough or runny nose, run a fever, and even lose your ability to smell and taste. But can you also lose your hearing from it?
The answer is yes, the flu can impact your hearing. People with the flu can experience temporary or permanent hearing loss.
The reason why hearing loss may be temporary or permanent is based on what is happening within the ear, and it can be difficult to tell if the virus you have has caused permanent damage to your hearing.
Temporary hearing loss
When you have a cold, fluid can build up in your middle ear, blocking the sound from reaching your eardrum. Running from your ears to your nasal cavity you have a tube called the eustachian tube, which is what gets blocked. This type of hearing loss is called conductive hearing loss. It’s the same type of hearing loss that you may have experienced during plane travel. That’s because the eustachian tube also regulates the air pressure in the middle ear. Usually this decreases your hearing ability to around 24 decibels, which is about the same sound level that you have when wearing ear plugsi.
The good news is that this type of hearing loss will go away when the fluid buildup decreases.
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Permanent hearing loss
If the cold turns into an ear-infection, you will also most likely have trouble with hearing or experience sounds to be muffled. Even though an ear infection can be very uncomfortable, it can most often be cured. Always contact your doctor if you think you might have an ear infection.
Most ear infections don’t cause long-term complications, but if ear infections happen again and again it can lead to complications such as mild hearing lossii.
People with chronic and long-term ear issues should contact an otolaryngologist, or an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
For more information about flu treatment and/or hearing loss, contact your doctor or hearing care professional.
iBoston Medical, Ear Infection and hearing loss Ear Infection and Hearing Loss | Boston Medical Center (bmc.org)
iiMayo Clinic, Ear Infection (middle ear) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ear-infections/symptoms-causes/syc-20351616