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Warning over cold infections that can cause hearing loss

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01 June 2017

Warning over cold infections that can cause hearing loss

A simple cold infection can in rare cases have a devastating impact on your hearing, experts have warned.

Those suffering with a cold often experience impaired hearing due to the infection blocking up certain pathways, but serious cases can lead to swelling in the inner ear, which compresses nerve cells. Left untreated, these nerve cells can die leading to sensorineural hearing loss.

An article in the Daily Mail refers to the case of well-known BBC Radio 3 presenter Michael Berkeley, who suffered sensorineural hearing loss after a cold. Twice Mr Berkley had seen GPs but had the condition dismissed as a temporary result of the cold virus.

Myles Black, a consultant ear, nose and throat expert at East Kent University Hospital, told the newspaper that the key to diagnosing sensorineural hearing loss is if the hearing loss is sudden and dramatic, and more GPs need to be aware of this fact.

Mr Berkley said of his experience: "I remember being mortified sitting next to Sandra Howard (wife of ex-politician Michael) at a dinner and just nodding because I couldn't hear a word she was saying. 

"I should have gone to see a specialist, but I'd been told by two doctors it would clear up."

Nerve damage being caused by a cold infection needs to be treated with steroids within two weeks or the damage can be severe.

 

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