Lyme Disease and Hearing Loss
Lyme disease is an infection caused by a bacterium (a germ) that is commonly transmitted by a bite from an infected deer tick. Although April through October is considered to be prime tick season; Lyme disease can be transmitted by a tick at any time of year.
Diagnosis of Lyme disease can be difficult because its symptoms are similar to other diseases. Several days or weeks after a bite from an infected tick, the patient may experience flu-like symptoms such as aches and pains in their muscles and joints, low-grade fever and fatigue. The classic symptom is a rash that looks like a bull’s-eye. The rash can vary in size and duration. Later symptoms can include headache, stiffness of the neck, and tingling or numbness in the extremities.
Lyme disease may also cause problems with hearing. The symptoms that may be an indication that Lyme’s disease is impacting the hearing/balance system can include the following:
- Hearing Loss (usually occurs suddenly)
- Sensitivity to Noise
- Ear Pain
- Facial Weakness
Among people who experience sudden hearing loss, lab tests have shown them to test positive for the bacterium or antibodies against the bacterium at a rate that was six times higher than the average population.
A study published in late in 2012 reported a progressive bilateral sensorineural hearing loss in stage 3 Lyme disease. This feature is different from hearing loss in stage 2 Lyme disease, which has essentially been reported to be unilateral and sudden.
Like any other illness, the sooner you do something about it the better the outcome. And the good news is that Lyme disease usually responds well to antibiotic therapy, Unfortuantely, the effect on hearing loss and tinnitus to treatment varies significantly from patient to patient.