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Herpes and Hearing Loss?
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rogerwhitson2 posted:
Hi, this is the 31 year old who saw an ENT and was suspected of having Autoimmune Ear Disease. I saw the neurotologist today. Let me remind you briefly of my history. I had a severe vertigo attack in 1999, preceded by an upper respiratory infection, which lasted for a week. In 2000, I had severe to profound hearing loss in my right ear, which was associated with the vertigo. In 2006, I had another severe vertigo attack (again lasting a week), preceded again by a URI, with more hearing loss. The hearing loss responded to steroids and mostly resolved within 3 months. Finally, this past May I had hearing loss (no vertigo, no URI), some of which came back.

The ENT I saw in Springfield suspected Autoimmune Ear Disease, considering my other autoimmune conditions (I have Ulcerative Colitis, sacrolitis, episcleritis). The neurotologist, however, thought that I might have a herpes virus which is usually dormant but is reactivated by colds or other infections and attacks the inner ear. He said the URIs and the fact that I have ulcers/sores in my mouth suggests herpes.

He ordered some blood tests to look for the Herpes virus (among other things), and said that if this were causing my attacks, I could suppress the virus with acylovir.

Anyway, I've had several blood tests in the past (the ENT ordered blood tests in 2006 before diagnosing me with Meniere's Disease), including one to look for STDs about two years ago. I'm pretty sure they looked for herpes, but I'm wondering if the type of herpes that could cause hearing loss and vertigo would be covered by a standard STD test. I guess it just seems odd, considering the summer I've been through, that my crazy hearing symptoms could be caused by something as simple as a virus.
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
Roger, if a herpes virus caused the inner ear damage, it was not likely acquired sexually...that is a different type of herpes (type 2). Remember that herpes is the virus that causes chicken pox, shingles, and cold sores (type 1). How you actually acquired the virus may be unclear, and of course, it is still speculative that herpes is really the viral culprit -- there can be many, many different viruses, even cold viruses, that can trigger these relative rare events that cause hearing loss, vertigo, etc. Many ENTs will try the antiviral drugs, like acyclovir -- sometimes they help, sometimes they do not. Tragically, inner ear damage may be permanent, so regardless of the cause, it may not be 'cured'.

The exact cause of this puzzling event may be very difficult to determine and may include such things as vascular accidents (strokes), severe viral or bacterial infections, autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc.), or tumors. Many times, even after a thorough diagnostic work-up, the exact cause remains elusive.


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