As the brunt of old man winter is upon us, so is the height of the cold and flu season. Most everyone focuses on protecting themselves from the dreaded symptoms of a cold or flu. However, you may not realize that the usual symptoms can be accompanied by hearing loss. Any hearing impairment associated with a cold or the flu is usually caused by a buildup of congestion in the sinuses and nasal passages. If hearing loss does occur, it is usually temporary and dissipates with the other symptoms as you begin to feel better. Read on to find out more about how this can happen, how to prevent it, and what to do if you are still experiencing hearing loss after a cold or flu is gone.
How a Cold or the Flu Can Cause Hearing Loss
When you are already sick and feeling under the weather, hearing loss can be one more symptom to add to the pot. Congestion builds up when you have a cold or the flu and can block sound waves from traveling through the ear. The eustachian tubes in the back of the throat normally help regulate air pressure in the middle ear, and if they get blocked because of congestion, the tubes can become blocked. Both of these problems can muffle sounds and cause hearing issues as well as problems with balance or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The hearing loss is conductive, or temporary, and goes away with the rest of the cold and flu symptoms.
Let your doctor and/or audiologist know if you are experiencing hearing loss during a cold or flu. If your hearing does not return to normal once you start feeling better, then contact your doctor immediately. There are some rare instances when the flu virus can affect the nerves in your ear and could result in permanent damage to your hearing.
How to Prevent Hearing Loss When You Are Sick
The best way to prevent hearing loss as a result of a cold or the flu is to not get sick at all. Of course, everyone gets sick at some point. Here are some ways to minimize the risk of hearing loss during cold and flu season:
- Get the flu shot to minimize or mitigate symptoms if you do contract the flu.
- Take vitamin C and boost your immune system as much as possible.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid exposure to others who are sick.
If you do get a cold or the flu, then you should get tested by your doctor to see if an antiviral prescription can help you or diagnose which antibiotics or decongestants are best for you. Get plenty of rest, drink fluids and follow your doctor’s orders to keep symptoms to a minimum; these actions will help protect your ears and your hearing during a cold or the flu.
You Can Rely on the Experts at Anderson Audiology
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At Anderson Audiology, we are always here to help you through all aspects of your hearing health. If you have any questions about hearing loss or hearing aids, please contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our hearing professionals today. We have 5 convenient audiology office locations in southern Nevada to choose from including: Green Valley, Sun City Summerlin, Aliante / Centennial, Henderson, or Rainbow / Desert Inn.