Mumps and Hearing Loss

Mumps

Mumps is a viral infection, which is highly contagious, caused by a type of virus called a paramyxovirus. Symptoms of mumps are same as that of flu like swollen glands (neck), sore throat, aches, fever and pains and earache.

Mumps mainly affects the salivary glands but other body parts sometimes get affected as well. Mumps are more common in children, but can occur at any stage.

The Ear, Hearing and Mumps

Children (or people) affected with mumps can sometimes suffer from hearing loss (deafness). This is usually short-term and gradually improves with time rarely causing permanent hearing loss. In the extreme cases virus can cause damage to cochlea, one of the structures in your inner ear that facilitates hearing. In such cases hearing loss due to mumps is usually sudden on onset, profound or complete, and may be associated with vestibular symptoms (parts of the inner ear and brain that help control balance and eye movements).

Prevention

No medicine is yet available that can kill the mumps virus. Majority of children gradually recover from mumps over a week with no long term complications. An effective vaccine to prevent mumps is available. It is part of the MMR vaccine. This is routinely offered to all children. Following a bout of mumps, if your child does suffer from hearing loss then there are lots of solutions that can help your child to adjust. Hearing aids are one option, along with cochlear implants. Learning new communication skills such as sign language, lip-reading, and cued speech can also help. So can joining organizations for parents of deaf and hard of hearing children.

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