Measles and Hearing Loss

Measles

Measles (morbilli) is an infection of the immune system, respiratory system and skin caused by a virus. Measles is a very infectious viral illness which is spread via respiration (airborne disease). Person infected with measles suffer with very high fever (over 40 °C or 104 °F) and spots on the face followed by rashes and hacking cough. Sometimes measles can also lead to serious complications.

Even though measles is serious disease for everyone, children younger than 5 and adults over 20 are more susceptible to complications.

The ear, hearing and Measles

Blocked Eustachian Tube, trapped fluid, imbalanced pressure, ear drum
Fig 1: Eustachian Tube
Common measles complications include ear infections in about one out of every 10 children and can result in permanent hearing loss.

Measles attack can cause a blockage of the Eustachian tubes (a small pressure vent that connects behind your eardrum to the back of the throat) from catarrh. The blockage of Eustachian tubes causes a collapse in the walls of the middle ear which stopped air from pumped from throat to the ear and causing hearing loss.

Prevention

Half of all cases of hearing loss due to measles can be prevented through primary prevention of the disease through immunisation.