Lyme disease is a bacterial illness caused by a bite by an infected black-legged tick, also known as a deer tick. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause serious health issues, including intense joint pain, neurological issues and hearing loss.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
You may develop a small red bump, similar to other bites, after being bitten by a tick. However, it’s important to note that not all tick bites will lead to Lyme disease. If you are infected, the following signs will likely appear anywhere from a few days to one month after exposure:
- A rash in the shape of a bullseye forms where you were bitten. It is usually not itchy but may feel warm to the touch.
- Fever and/or chills
- Body aches
- Neck stiffness
If you experience any of these symptoms and/or suspect you were bitten by a tick, contact your medical provider for an evaluation. Treatment with antibiotics is necessary to clear the infection and help prevent more serious symptoms.
How Can Lyme Disease Lead To Hearing Loss?
If not treated early, Lyme disease can spread to other parts of your body, damaging your joints, nervous system, heart and possibly your auditory system.
A 2018 study examining ear-related symptoms in people with tick-borne illnesses found that:
- 76.5% reported tinnitus
- 53.7% vertigo and dizziness
- 16.7% unilateral hearing loss (one ear affected)
Preventing Lyme Disease and Protecting Your Hearing Health
Deer ticks are usually found in grassy or heavily wooded areas. If you’re someone who enjoys hiking through the Boise National Forest, make sure to take the following precautions to help avoid tick bites:
- Stay on designated trails and avoid walking into low bushes/long grass
- Cover up. Wear long sleeves, pants and a hat
- Use insect repellent
- Check yourself for ticks when you get home
- If any pets or children came with you, check them as well
- Take off your hiking clothes and wash them in hot water
- Take a shower
If you do discover a tick on you, don’t panic. Grab a pair of tweezers and use them to fully remove the tick. Contact your medical provider and let them know and watch for any signs of infection.
Check Your Hearing
If you have Lyme disease and you start experiencing a ringing in the ear or trouble hearing, schedule an appointment with an audiologist. They can perform a hearing test along with a full audiological exam to help assess if you have any hearing loss as well as its severity.
Treatment with hearing aids can help improve your ability to process sounds and may help protect your ears from future damage.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, contact Southwest Idaho ENT today.