While once a common childhood disease affecting millions of kids each year, chickenpox cases have been drastically reduced through routine vaccinations. Chickenpox is a viral infection that causes an itchy rash and small, fluid-filled blisters to develop. A lesser-known symptom of this viral infection is hearing loss.
The varicella zoster virus (VZV) is the medical name for chickenpox. VZV is the virus that causes shingles, a painful skin condition that is part of the same family of viruses that causes cold sores, fever blisters and genital herpes.
In addition to the telltale extremely itchy rash, chickenpox symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Swollen glands
Link Between Chickenpox & Hearing Loss
Unlike other viruses, VXV remains in your nervous system after an initial infection. When activated again in older adults, the virus causes shingles. In addition to a painful rash, shingles can also lead to the development of a rare disease called Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is most common in adults 60 years and older who had children pox earlier in their lives. Unlike chickenpox, this condition is not contagious. Ramsay Hunt syndrome affects the nerve near the inner ear, may lead to facial paralysis and can cause a painful rash to appear on the eardrum, ear canal and earlobe. The proximity of the facial nerve to the vestibulocochlear nerve can result in hearing loss, tinnitus, and vertigo.
How to Protect Yourself
Fortunately, a safe and effective vaccine is readily available to prevent chickenpox and all related complications. Available at Briargrove Pharmacy & Gifts or your doctor’s office, the chickenpox and shingles vaccines are a recommended part of any primary care and preventative health services. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about these vaccines.
To learn more about what to do if you suspect you are having trouble hearing as the result of a viral infection, contact Hearing Systems today to schedule a hearing evaluation.