Winter is associated with many different things: snow, longer nights, shorter days, and the cold and flu. We’re all familiar with the typical symptoms of the cold or flu, but did you know that hearing loss could be one?
Hearing loss as a result of the cold or flu is generally caused by congestion in the ears and sinuses. Although usually temporary, hearing loss is no added bonus when you’re already sick. We’ve put together some tips to help you protect your hearing this cold and flu season.
How Can Cold or Flu Cause Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss as a symptom of an illness is not uncommon. A cold or flu causes congestion to build up in the middle ear. This makes it difficult for sound waves to travel through the ear. Additionally, the eustachian tubes in the back of the throat can become blocked. Their function is to help regulate air pressure in the middle ear. Both of these issues can disrupt sound waves, and make it harder to understand speech. Either of these issues can muffle sound and make it difficult to discern speech.
Other symptoms involving your ears that could be caused by a cold or flu include tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and/or balance problems. These symptoms generally disappear along with the other symptoms of a cold or flu.
On very rare occasions, the flu virus can affect the nerves in the ear and cause permanent hearing damage. We recommend if you do notice your hearing is affected during an illness, make sure your doctor or hearing care professional is aware. This will allow them to monitor your hearing for any changes, and identify any concerns quickly.
Protecting Your Hearing
It may sound obvious, but the best way to protect your hearing is to avoid getting ill in the first place. These preventative steps can help reduce your risk of an illness, thereby protecting your hearing:
- Avoid exposure to other people who may be sick.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after
- Get a yearly flu shot to minimize or mitigate symptoms if you do contract the flu at all.
- Eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system.
If you do end up sick with a cold or flu, ensure you stay well hydrated and rest as much as possible. Book in an appointment with your local doctor if symptoms don’t improve, they will be able to advise on the best course of action to help mitigate symptoms. Minimizing congestion will help to protect your hearing during a cold or the flu.
Protect your hearing this cold and flu season with the above tips. If you have noticed any recent changes in your hearing, why not come in to speak with the hearing care professionals at Audionics NYC? Call us on 212-755-5100 or click here to request your appointment.