Multiple Sclerosis and Hearing: What's the Connection?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. This includes the brain and spinal cord. The main symptoms of MS include mobility issues, like muscle weakness. But the condition can also impact various sensory functions, including hearing. In this blog, we explore the connection between MS and hearing. We also discuss the signs that MS has affected your hearing, and the treatment options.
The Impact of Multiple Sclerosis on Hearing
Multiple sclerosis can affect the auditory pathway. This pathway transmits sounds from the ears to the brain. When MS disrupts this pathway, it can result in hearing problems. According to a study, 40% of individuals with MS experience some form of hearing loss. The specific mechanism through which MS affects hearing is not yet understood. Scientists believe it's due to inflammation and nerve damage in the auditory pathway.
Signs that Multiple Sclerosis Has Affected Your Hearing
If you have multiple sclerosis, it's important to be aware of the hearing-related signs.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss caused by MS. With this, you have a reduced ability to hear sounds. You may also have a hard time understanding speech, especially in noisy environments. If you find yourself asking others to repeat themselves, it may be a sign of hearing loss.
- Tinnitus. Tinnitus refers to the perception of ringing, buzzing, or other similar sounds in the ears. Many individuals with MS have tinnitus as a result of the nerve damage caused by the disease. If you hear phantom sounds in your ears, discuss this with your healthcare provider.
- Dizziness or Vertigo. MS-related damage to the central nervous system can affect the balance in the inner ear. This can lead to dizziness or vertigo. If you feel lightheaded, unsteady, or feel like you're spinning, mention this to your doctor.
Seeking Treatment for MS-Related Hearing Issues
If you suspect that MS has affected your hearing, consult an audiologist. Try to find one who specializes in working with individuals with neurological conditions. They can perform a hearing evaluation and determine the best course of treatment. Treatment options for hearing issues related to MS may include:
- Hearing Aids. Depending on the severity of hearing loss, hearing aids may help. They amplify sounds and improve your ability to hear and understand speech.
- Auditory Rehabilitation. Auditory rehabilitation programs, like speech therapy or auditory training, can help. They maximize their communication skills and adapt to changes in their hearing abilities.
- Medication. In some cases, medication prescribed for MS-related symptoms can also help. They reduce inflammation and improve hearing function. But, the effectiveness of these medications may vary from person to person.
It is important to note that the treatment will depend on the person's hearing loss and condition. You should consult with a doctor for accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment recommendations.
While MS affects the central nervous system, it can also have an impact on a person's hearing. Understanding the connection between MS and hearing is vital. It can help individuals seek timely treatment and management strategies. If you suspect that MS has affected your hearing, contact Beltone South. Our audiologists can provide you with further evaluation and guidance.