When two or more health conditions occur together, they are said to be comorbidities. One set of comorbidities you may not have heard of before is hearing loss and shingles. We review the connection between these two conditions below.
What Is Shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection that typically affects adults 50 and older. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same one that causes chickenpox. If you experienced chickenpox as a child, the virus may remain dormant for years and present later as shingles. Note, however, it is possible to get shingles even if you were vaccinated against chickenpox when you were younger.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Almost 1 out of 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime.”
What Are the Symptoms of Shingles?
Symptoms of shingles typically include a painful rash on one side of the body or face (usually within the first few days of the infection’s onset), fever, chills, headache and upset stomach.
Auditory Symptoms of Shingles
In addition to the symptoms listed above, auditory complications can also arise as a result of a shingles infection. These include hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and balance problems.
Shingles can also present as other disease pathways such as:
- Labyrinthitis. This is an infection of the inner ear, which can affect both hearing and balance.
- Ramsay Hunt syndrome. This affects the facial nerve near the inner ear and can also damage hearing. Most cases of Ramsay Hunt syndrome result in temporary hearing loss in the higher frequency ranges; however, in some cases, the damage is permanent. This usually occurs in people who don’t seek prompt medical care and in those who experience vertigo.
How Can I Prevent Shingles-Related Hearing Loss?
The best way for you to prevent shingles and associated hearing loss is to get vaccinated. The vaccine for shingles is called Shingrix, which provides immunity for up to seven years. Two doses provide more than 90% protection. Currently, the recommendation is to get two shingles doses two to six months apart once you turn 50.
As of the beginning of this year, Shingrix is now free for almost everyone. Visit Longview Drugs in the Northwest Village Shopping Center to learn more.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call SoundLogic today.