Cause of Hearing Loss: Meningitis
An infection in the lining and fluid around the brain and spinal column, meningitis can be viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic. While it doesn’t always result in hearing loss, people who have had meningitis are considered at a much higher risk.
Meningitis, which can strike at any age, can be fatal. It is possible to save the life of a meningitis patient by administering powerful antibiotics for bacterial meningitis (antibiotics don’t work for viral meningitis). These antibiotics can result in deafness, however, and meningitis itself can also reason deafness.
Hearing loss is the most common after-effect of bacterial meningitis. Difficulties can range from mild hearing loss through to profound deafness in one or both ears.
The effects of meningitis contain the loss of hair cells in the inner ear, which leads to mild-to-medium hearing loss. Further physical damage to inner ear structures can result in a profound hearing loss. Meningitis can also leave a person with Tinnitus: a persistent whooshing or ringing-in-the-ears sound.
The symptoms of meningitis include:
- Sensitivity to light
- Rapid, high fever
Treatments for meningitis
Treatments for meningitis infections (except for viral) include powerful antibiotics. Unfortunately, just as meningitis itself can lead to hearing loss, potent antibiotics used to treat it can reason hearing loss as well. Medications that can impair hearing are known as ototoxic.
In cases of bacterial meningitis, steroids are added to the mix to reduce the chance of neurological damage and to prevent blindness and meningitis hearing loss.
Temporary Hearing Loss
The hearing loss caused by meningitis can also be temporary. A study reported in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood looked at 124 children who were recently diagnosed with meningitis. All children were given audiological screenings as soon as possible after diagnosis, with follow-up screenings. Twenty-one were found to have hearing loss at the first screening.