Why The Link Between Hearing Loss And Lyme Disease Is Important To Understand
Although hearing loss is all too common in individuals with Lyme disease, its still not widely recognized. It can be so easy to feel overtaken by the other host of debilitating symptoms that Lyme can cause. These symptoms include crippling pain and fatigue, brain fog , neurological symptoms, mobility challenges, and much more. As a result, hearing loss can become secondary or overlooked.
Hearing loss in general can feel overwhelming, especially when it comes to medical settings, communication, and so forth. When a medical condition can be a contributing factor in your hearing loss, it can become even more overwhelming. Trying to grasp all of the different information that comes with a Lyme diagnosis or treatment plan in general is a lot to take in and process. With hearing loss, processing that information will be much harder. It can lead you to feel as though youre missing out on critical information about your health and condition.
Therefore, its crucial for doctors and patients to understand the implications that Lyme has on hearing loss. This way adjustments can be made whether its interpreters, clear communication, hearing assistive technology, etc. This way patients have equal access to the care they need and can focus on their condition at hand.
its crucial for doctors and patients to understand the implications that Lyme has on hearing loss.
Audiological And Otoneurological Examination
The audiometric evaluation was assessed at the initial study and after 30 days by pure-tone average audiometry on low and high frequencies for both ears. Moreover, each patient had an additional auditory brainstem response and electronystagmography examinations. The outcome data included PTA of hearing thresholds of 500, 1000, 2000, and 4000 Hz. The frequencies of bone conduction were the same as the air conduction.
The ABR test was performed on an ICS Chartr EP 200 Otometrics device using a 24 kHz crackle acoustic stimulus with a duration of 100 µs. A hearing threshold of 20 dB nHL for each ear separately was assumed as the correct result. The abnormal result was assessed for individual hearing loss thresholds: 2040 dB nHL, 4060 dB nHL, and 60 dB nHL.
The videoelectronystagmography was performed on the Aquamatic equipment number 24510244. In the VENG study, the excitability of the labyrinths was assessed in caloric tests, assuming canal paresis 20% as the norm.
Tinnitus reported by patients was divided into high- and low-frequency tinnitus due to its frequency.
The study protocol was reviewed and approved by the Bioethical Committee of Jagiellonian University in Krakow .
Borrelia Burgdorferi And Lymes Disease
The bacteria causes Lyme disease which is transmitted by black-legged ticks to humans, especially in the northeastern, midwestern, and western portions of the US. Lyme disease is manifest by a bulls eye rash , which goes on to provoke a variety of bodily harms.
B. burgdorferi and Lyme disease are newcomers the disease wasnt named and identified until the mid 70s, the bacteria wasnt isolated until the early 1980s. But both been around for much longer than that. B. burgdorferi-like bacteria have been found trapped in New World amber dating back 15,000 million years.
The multi-stage disease cycle starts when the bacteria infect mammals and birds that have been bitten by ticks carrying the bacteria, who feed on the blood of the mammals. The cycle comes full circle when bacteria-carrying ticks drop eggs to the ground.
Once a warm-blooded animal is bitten, the bacteria invades its blood and tissue. Borrelia burgdorferi is especially partial to the white-footed mouse. Ticks in different stages of their life-cycles bite and feed up the mammalian food chain, going from mice to larger mammals like humans and deer. At each stage, they can transfer the bacteria and infect their present host. When they do so in humans, the Lyme disease encompasses a constellation of pathologies, including myocarditis, cardiomyopathy, arrythmia, arthritis, arthralgia,meningitis, neuropathies and facial nerve palsy.
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What Should Audiologists Know
Audiologists cant know what causes SSNHL most of the time, but they can and should be familiar with the usual and the unusual suspects. Sudden sensensorineural hearing loss is a topic of its own that weve written about at HHTM before. SSNHL associated with Lyme disease is not reported or connected very often by physician or audiologist.
Its easy to miss the connection. Lyme disease, known as the great imitator, can be misdiagnosed . It can take weeks to manifest after the tick bite, with symptoms rolling out insidiously. In contrast, SSNHL is, by definition, sudden, dramatic, and impossible to miss. Who would think to link sudden devastation of a single sensory channel with slow debilitation of a variety of body systems?
Autoimmune Inner Ear Disorder
The autoimmune disease most directly connected to hearing is autoimmune inner ear disorder . In this rare disorder, immune cells attack the inner ear, leading to progressive hearing loss that may fluctuate. The hearing loss can be sudden, but according to an article in the Hearing Journal, the onset of AIED is usually slower, taking days to months.
It can occur on its own, but data shows that about one-third of AIED patients also have a systemic autoimmune disorder, such as lupus or RA.
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Complete Hearing Recovery With Iv Ceftriaxone
The remaining 3 patients, who were treated with intravenous ceftriaxone, had complete improvement in their hearing loss.
Those three patients reported a complete recovery of hearing , the authors write.
Infections caused by Borrelia burgdorferi may contribute to the development of inflammatory and angiopathic lesions, which are a possible cause of .
Unfortunately, 2 patients were left with high-frequency tinnitus. In these patients, tinnitus was present from the beginning of the disease, the authors write.
The group of 9 Lyme disease patients was treated with antibiotics and experienced partial or complete regression of their deafness, the authors conclude. This may suggest a relationship between and Lyme disease.
The longer the duration of the infection, the greater the likelihood of permanent and irreversible changes in the vessels of the cochlea or auditory nerve, the authors caution.
How Lyme Disease Can Affect Your Hearing
If left untreated, it can cause even more severe damage to your body, including your auditory system. This can include hearing loss, hyperacusis, and tinnitus. An estimated 48 percent of patients with late-stage Lyme diseases may develop hearing problems.
People who end up with hearing loss may have to wear hearing aids. Hearing aids come in a variety sizes and with a wide range of technology to suit the needs of all patients.
Hyperacusis is when patients experience extreme sensitivity to sound. Usually it just affects louder sounds, but in some cases ordinary sounds can be painful. It can be treated with sound therapy and cognitive behavior therapy, CEENTA AudiologistBriana Garrett, AuD, said.
Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a ringing or high-pitched sound with no source. There is no cure for tinnitus, although it can be managed with hearing aids, sound therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy.
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Otologic Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Sporadic case reports associate Lyme infections with sudden hearing loss, autoimmune inner ear disease, and bilateral vestibular loss. It seems likely that the damage of Lyme to the ear is through injury to the eighth nerve, rather than through damage to hair cells or inflammation within the inner ear.
Sowula et al reported that otological symptoms occurred frequently in tick-borne diseases. They reported in patient’s with Lyme in Poland, “The most common complaint was tinnitus accompanied by vertigo and dizziness , headache , unilateral sensorineural hearing loss . The patients also had tick-borne coinfections, among them the most common was Bartonella henselae and Bartonella quintana .”Others have reported hearing loss accompanied by cochlear inflammation and polyneuritis , as well as isolated sudden hearing loss . According to Bakker et al , “Neuroborreliosis seems to be a rare cause of sudden SHL, and routine screening of patients for borrelia antibodies in serum should therefore not be recommended.”
While it has been suggested that Lyme can cause vestibular loss, the evidence is slight. In areas where Lyme is endemic, positive blood tests for Lyme can wrongly be used to infer that Lyme caused vestibular loss. When vestibular loss occurs, it is presumably from vestibular nerve radiculopathy .
Rare findings are infectious vasculitis, including for example, MRI enhancement of the basilar artery.
Sensitivities To Light And Sound
One of the pioneers in Lyme disease research is Joseph J. Burrascano Jr., MD. In the early days of the disease, he came up with a checklist that doctors could use to diagnose itand it includes all of the above signs, as well as other previously observed symptoms like sensitivities to light and sound, muscle weakness, erectile dysfunction, and dental pain.
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Audiologist: There’s A Huge Connection Between Lyme Disease And Profound Hearing Loss
Health, entertainment and LGBT writer
Tracy Murphy, Au.D., a member of the American Academy of Audiology Board of Directors
In September, I was contacted by a representative of the American Academy of Audiology, who wrote that the AAA is working on educating the public of the many factors that can contribute to hearing loss and the seriousness of that loss. The message recounted the story of Teresa Jennings, who was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2011. As if chronic fatigue and other Lyme symptoms were not enough, within a year and a half after her diagnosis, her hearing in both ears began to severely decline. Her story continues:
Jennings started treatment at a clinic in Washington, D.C. where she traveled from Illinois every three months for medical care. When her hearing first began to decline, she saw several audiologists for hearing aids but the cost was not affordable so she went to a large, national big-box discount store and purchased hearing aids.
Tracy Murphy, AuD, is an Illinois-based clinical audiologist who works with North Shore Audio-Vestibular Lab and a member of the American Academy of Audiology Board of Directors. Murphy is the audiologist who treated Jennings.
Many Lyme patients lose their hearing from the disease, Murphy said. Teresas hearing loss was severe to profound.
I spoke with Murphy by phone in September to discuss her knowledge of Lyme-related hearing loss.
Hmm, she said. Thats a really good question.
End of Tangent
Study Finds Hearing Loss And Tinnitus Common In Patients With Tick
A new study finds that the majority of patients with tick-borne diseases admitted to an outpatient otolaryngological clinic in Poland suffered from hearing loss and tinnitus. In the article, Otolaryngological symptoms in patients treated for tick-borne diseases, Sowula and colleagues from Jagiellonian University in Krakow review the records of 216 patients, ages 18-55, who were evaluated in their clinic for tick-borne diseases between 2014 and 2016.
In Europe, the most common tick-borne diseases are Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis. However, in recent years the number of infections caused by pathogens from Bartonella, Babesia, Anaplasma,Brucella and other species has also been increasing, writes Sowula. This study looked at not only the prevalence of otolaryngological symptoms in patients with Lyme disease, but in those with other tick-transmitted illnesses, as well.
According to the authors, three fourths of the 216 patients diagnosed with a tick-borne disease experienced otolaryngological symptoms. The most common complaint was tinnitus accompanied by vertigo and dizziness , headache , and unilateral sensorineural hearing loss , writes Sowula.
The patients also reported symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia , hearing hypersensitivity, facial nerve paralysis, toothaches, tongue paresthesias, and smell hypersensitivity.
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General Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease:
The clinical course of Lyme begins with a skin lesion , several days after a tick bite. After this, neurological, cardiac, chronic skin, or joint involvement develops. Similar to the situation with syphilis, Lyme is divided into several stages — an acute localized one, with later dissemination divided into early and late stages.
In the late stage , there may be chronic encephalomyelitis. Patients present with spastic paraparesis, ataxia, cranial nerve palsies such as facial weakness and deafness, bladder dysfunction, and cognitive impairment.
According to Garcia-Monco , the most common clinical presentations are painful radiculitis, cranial palsy , and headache. Thus these are symptoms primarily of nerve damage. In the US, lymphocytic meningitis is the most common and single early manifestation. Headache is the main complaint.
Vertigo And Severe Balance Instability As Symptoms Of Lyme Diseaseliterature Review And Case Report
- 1Balance Disorders Unit, Department of Otolaryngology, Medical University of Lodz, The Norbert Barlicki Memorial Teaching Hospital, Lodz, Poland
- 2Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Balance Disorders Unit, Department of Audiology and Phoniatrics, Lodz, Poland
- 3Department of Infectious Diseases and Hepatology, Medical University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland
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May Is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month
May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne illness in the United States. It is transmitted by the bite of a tick that is infected with bacterium. The disease can cause fatigue, fever, headache, and rash, and can affect our joints, heart, and nervous system. But did you know that Lyme disease can also affect your ears? Lyme disease may cause hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, and sound sensitivity. Although the disease can sometimes be treated successfully with antibiotics, prevention is key. This may include using insect repellent and removing ticks from the body promptly.
Blog posts brought to you by Mindy Brudereck
Conditions Like Lupus And Rheumatoid Arthritis Are Linked To Hearing Loss And Tinnitus
Did you know hearing loss can be related to an underlying conditionnot simply age or noise exposure? When this happens, the condition is often an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
Research indicates that hearing loss, tinnitus and other hearing problems are more common among people with autoimmune disorders, so much so that audiologist Trisha Milnes encourages all her patients with autoimmune diseases to request hearing tests.
Her clinic even makes a point of reaching out to patients with certain autoimmune-related illnesses, asking about their hearing, said Milnes, chief of Audiology and Speech Pathology at the Charlie Norwood Virginia Medical Center, a Veterans Health Administration facility. “It’s very necessary,” she explained.
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Hyperacusis Tinnitus Sudden Hearing Loss In Lyme Disease Literature References
Sound Sensitivity and the Lyme Disease Connection
Carbamazepine in the Treatment of Lyme DiseaseInduced Hyperacusis
AETIOLOGY AND CLINICAL PRESENTATIONS OF AUDITORY PROCESSING DISORDERSA REVIEW HTTP://ADC.BMJ.COM/CONTENT/85/5/361.SHORT
TINNITUS, HEARING LOSS, SOUND SENSITIVITY AND THE LYME DISEASE CONNECTION
Otolaryngologic aspects of Lyme disease.
Central Auditory Processing Disorder
Lyme Disease: a leading cause of candida, brain fog and tinnitus
Lyme Disease, Hyperacusis & Tinnitus
Aetiology and clinical presentations of auditory processing disordersa review
Chronic Neurologic Manifestations of Lyme Disease
Tinnitus, Ringing Between The Ears
Lyme disease: Cause of a treatable peripheral neuropathy
Sudden Deafness and Lyme Disease =
The functional neuroanatomy of tinnitus
Latent Lyme neuroborreliosis
Lyme Disease: Sudden Hearing Loss As The Sole Presentation
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 January 2015
- C Espiney Amaro*
- Affiliation:ENT Department, CUF Descobertas Hospital, Lisbon, PortugalHyperbaric and Subaquatic Medical Centre of the Portuguese Navy, Lisbon, Portugal
- P Montalvão
- ENT Department, CUF Descobertas Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal
- C Huins
- ENT Department, Barts Royal London Hospitals, UK
- J Saraiva
- ENT Department, CUF Descobertas Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal
- Address for correspondence: Dr Carla Espiney Amaro ,
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How To Protect Against Lyme Disease
Ideally, the best way to prevent Lyme disease-related hearing loss is to prevent Lyme disease in the first place. If you spend a lot of time outside, whether youre playing, gardening, or hiking, you should avoid grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
The CDC also recommends checking your clothes for ticks once you come back inside. Clothes should be washed in hot water. You should also take a shower within two hours of coming inside. It can help wash ticks off your body and is also a good opportunity to check your body for ticks. During a tick check, you should examine your entire body, using a mirror when necessary.
If you do find a tick attached to you, remove it as soon as you see it. Follow the guidelines set by the CDC or a similar medical organization. Watch for signs of illness and see a doctor immediately if they develop.
An audiologist will be able to help you determine the extent of any hearing damage and will come up with a treatment plan best suited for your needs. Lyme disease is a serious condition, and if you do contract it our doctors will do everything they can to help you with your hearing.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. To make an appointment with an audiologist, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.
Lyme Disease And Hearing Loss
HHTM Staff May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. As we head into summer, the next three months or more will be spent pursuing the splendors of the great outdoors.
We all know to wear sunscreen and hats to protect our skin. Some of us know to wear long sleeves and pants to ward off diseases from insect bites. A few know to follow medication regimens and sleep under netting in some parts of the world for the same reasons.
Hardly anyone thinks of doing any of the above as a means of protecting ears and our hearing. Todays post raises that thought.
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