Episode 17: How A Cold Or Flu Can Cause (Usually Temporary) Hearing Loss

Everyone is familiar with the symptoms of a cold or flu, but did you know that those symptoms can include hearing loss? The hearing loss usually comes as a result of the congestion build up in the sinuses and ears. Like the other symptoms, the hearing loss is usually temporary but can add to the misery of being sick.

When you have a cold or the flu, congestion builds up in the middle ear which makes it hard for the sound waves to travel through the ear. In addition, the eustachian tubes in the back of the throat can become blocked and their function is to help regulate air pressure in the middle ear. Either of these issues can muffle sound and make it difficult to discern speech. Other related ear related symptoms during a cold or flu can include balance problems and/or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

The resulting conductive hearing loss usually dissipates along with all the other cold and flu symptoms. However on rare occasions, the flu virus can affect the nerves in the ear and cause permanent hearing damage.

If you do experience hearing loss, keep your doctor or audiologist in the loop, especially if the hearing loss isn’t getting better when other symptoms begin to go away.