When two or more conditions occur together, they are said to be comorbidities. One set of comorbidities that may surprise you are hearing loss and shingles. We review more about this link below.
What Is Shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection that affects adults 50 and older. This serious infection is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox. If you experienced chickenpox as a child, the virus may remain dormant for years and later be presented as shingles. You could get shingles even if you were vaccinated against chickenpox when you were younger.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “Almost 1 out of 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime.”
What Are the Symptoms of Shingles?
Common symptoms of shingles include a painful rash on one side of the body or face, typically within the first few days after the infection’s onset, fever, chills, headache and upset stomach.
Other auditory complications that can arise as a result of a shingles infection include tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo (spinning sensation) and dizziness.
In addition, shingles can present as other disease pathways, such as:
- This infection of the inner ear affects 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 among the higher frequencies; however, sometimes, it is permanent. In most cases, this occurs in people who don’t seek prompt medical care and those who also experience vertigo.
How Can I Prevent Shingles?
The best way to prevent shingles and associated auditory complications is to get vaccinated against the infection. The vaccine for shingles is called Shingrix, which provides immunity for up to seven years; two doses provide more than 90% protection. The current recommendation is to get two shingles doses two to six months apart once you hit age 50. As of January 1, 2023, Shingrix is now free for almost everyone.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Pinnacle ENT today.