The Link Between the Zika Virus & Hearing Health that You Need to Know

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You might recall the persistent news about the Zika virus, as stories about it covered all major media outlets back in 2016. After various research and studies had been performed, it seemed as if the emphasis on Zika lessened slightly. However, the threat of this virus is still very real, and traveling to countries where it can be contracted still requires a great deal of precaution. This is especially true in light of recent findings about the virus.

What’s even more important to realize is that contracting Zika doesn’t simply mean you are ill for a period of time and will recover unscathed. One of the less talked about implications of the virus has to do with one’s hearing health, as symptoms for several hearing conditions can crop up as a result of exposure.

An Overview Of Zika

Adults who travel to countries like South America, the Caribbean, or New Guinea are exposing themselves to the Zika virus, a disease that’s carried by mosquitoes in these regions. Those who contract Zika may not show any symptoms at all, while others might be plagued with a rash, fever, or joint pain. Sensitivity to light and headaches are also common.

While these signs go away in several weeks for many individuals, there are some who experience lingering effects. It’s important to remember that Zika is not a threat just to adults; children can contract the disease and even pregnant women might be risking the health of their unborn child. It has been strongly recommended that women who aren’t even currently pregnant but hope to be within the next several years should avoid traveling to areas where Zika is prevalent.

Zika And Your Hearing

So far this virus might sound like it has nothing to do with hearing health, but researchers in Brazil have begun to uncover a correlation between those who contracted Zika and the incidence of new hearing problems. Symptoms of vertigo, hearing loss, and tinnitus have been present in many individuals who have otherwise recovered from the disease. They are noticing that these hearing effects might be more permanent than originally thought.

There’s also a risk for unborn babies’ hearing when it comes to Zika. It’s possible that pregnant women who contract the virus have a greater risk of their child experiencing sensorineural hearing loss as well as the underdevelopment of their brain. Brazilian medical professionals have stressed the importance of conducting newborn hearing screenings for children whose mothers may have had Zika, as early detection of hearing loss offers the best scenario for effective tools and devices.

Should I Avoid Traveling?

While the threat of Zika and its impact on your hearing health is real, it’s important to remember that proper precautions can be taken to reduce your exposure. If you’re traveling to an area where Zika is present, utilize mosquito repellant and wear clothing that covers your extremities as much as possible. Since Zika can also be transmitted through sexual contact, it’s best to avoid such activities with individuals who might be infections.

Your hearing health matters, so if you feel that you are experiencing hearing loss or other symptoms after traveling, contact your hearing health professional right away.

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