Meningitis is a potentially life-threating condition that requires immediate treatment. The sooner treatment is received, the better the chance of preventing serious complications such as permanent hearing loss.
Meningitis is inflammation of the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord. Early symptoms mimic the flu and can intensify in severity within hours or days. Common symptoms include:
- High fever.
- Stiff neck.
- Severe headache.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Sensitivity to light.
- No thirst or appetite.
- Skin rash.
Bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections can all lead to meningitis, but the most common cause is a viral infection. These causes can spread through coughing, sneezing and kissing. The best ways to protect yourself and your children is to promote good handwashing hygiene after getting home from playing at Morningside Park and making it a point to not share food or drinks.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent meningitis.
Hearing Loss Complications
About 30-50% of children with pneumococcal meningitis report a hearing impairment. Hearing loss occurs in about 10-30% of those with Haemophilus influenzae type B meningitis and 5-25% of those with meningococcal meningitis.
There are a number of ways that meningitis can lead to ear damage. The antibiotics used to treat the infection, the compounds produced by the immune system trying to fight off the infection and the bacteria causing the infection itself can all damage the delicate hair cells within the inner ear. These hair cells are responsible for translating sound vibrations into electrical impulses, which are then sent through the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
Bacterial meningitis can lead to blood poisoning, a condition that can cause cell death in the inner ear and auditory nerve. Cochlear ossification can also occur as a result of meningitis. This condition accompanies extreme inflammation and occurs when fluid within the cochlea is replaced by bone.
Not all ear damage caused by meningitis leads to hearing loss. Glue ear occurs when the middle ear fills with fluid and causes children to hear dulled sounds. Tinnitus, or a ringing in the ear, is common with older children and adults.
To learn more about treating hearing loss caused by meningitis or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact Hearing Health Centers today.