Study finds hearing loss and tinnitus common in patients with tick-borne diseases

A new study finds that the majority of patients with tick-borne diseases admitted to an outpatient otolaryngological clinic in Poland suffered from hearing loss and tinnitus. In the article, “Otolaryngological symptoms in patients treated for tick-borne diseases,” Sowula and colleagues from Jagiellonian University in Krakow review the records of 216 patients, ages 18-55, who were evaluated in their clinic for tick-borne diseases between 2014 and 2016. [1]

 

In Europe, the most common tick-borne diseases are Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis. However, “in recent years the number of infections caused by pathogens from Bartonella, Babesia, Anaplasma, Brucella and other species has also been increasing,” writes Sowula. This study looked at not only the prevalence of otolaryngological symptoms in patients with Lyme disease, but in those with other tick-transmitted illnesses, as well.

According to the authors, three fourths of the 216 patients diagnosed with a tick-borne disease experienced otolaryngological symptoms. “The most common complaint was tinnitus (76.5%) accompanied by vertigo and dizziness (53.7%), headache (39%), and unilateral sensorineural hearing loss (16.7%),” writes Sowula.

The patients also reported symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia (a chronic pain condition affecting the trigeminal nerve in the face), hearing hypersensitivity, facial nerve paralysis, toothaches, tongue paresthesias, and smell hypersensitivity.

Furthermore, the authors found that these patients were frequently infected with Bartonella. “The largest group included patients infected with bacteria of the Bartonella henselae (33.4%) and Bartonella quintana (13%) species,” Sowula states.

A smaller study conducted in the Unites States in 1990 also examined the prevalence of otolaryngological symptoms, specifically in Lyme disease patients. The study, led by Logigian from the Department of Neurology and Medicine at Tufts University of Medicine found that 4 out of 27 patients, ages 35-67, with chronic neurologic Lyme disease presented with hearing loss and tinnitus. [2]

“In all four, the hearing loss was apparent on physical examination, and in the two patients tested, audiometry testing confirmed a mild, high frequency, sensorineural hearing loss,” writes Logigian.

Study finds 76% of patients with tick-borne diseases have hearing loss and tinnitus. Click To Tweet

In both studies, patients’ symptoms improved after treatment with intravenous ceftriaxone. One of the four patients described by Logigian and colleagues continued to have a unilateral hearing loss. When making treatment decisions, Sowula and colleagues considered the presence of Bartonella spp in their patients and suggested a combination of antibiotics. “It also seems that using combined treatment may be helpful (e.g. third-generation cefalosporin + Rifampicin, alternatively fluorochinolone).”

 

References:

  1. Sowula K, Skladzien J, Szaleniec J, Gawlik J. Otolaryngological symptoms in patients treated for tick-borne diseases. Otolaryngol Pol. 2018;72(1):30-34.
  2. Logigian EL, Kaplan RF, Steere AC. Chronic neurologic manifestations of Lyme disease. N Engl J Med. 1990;323(21):1438-1444.


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Rebecca Conlon
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Rebecca Conlon

I went hiking in an area known to have ticks with Lyme disease. Within a day my ears were clogged and full. Two months later (ears still full) I was exposed to loud music and developed very loud tinnitus. My ears continue to feel full and I feel dizzy. Is it possible that I could have reacted to Lyme disease that quickly or can I dismiss Lyme as the cause?

John R
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John R

My trigger was RMSF (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) which is actually the most dangerous of the tick-bourne illnesses. I was immediately put on a 14 day regimen of doxycycline. The doc is satisfied that the tick bug is gone but now I’m left with tinnitus in its place. I’m crossing my fingers that it’s temporary.

kathy pease
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kathy pease

I think it is the grand plan they want everyone to become sick and debilitiated for God sake. These tick borne diseases are spreading like wildfire yet they do absolutely nothing. I was diagnosed in 2012 after finding a tick on my leg. tested positive for lyme through Quest. Now my 3 year old granddaughter was bitten a few days ago and her PCP said it would be silly to put her on medicine. I then had my daughter call my llmd and she saw him and he put her on medicine. I am so pissed and frustrated. Kids cannot… Read more »

PJ M.
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PJ M.

I’m with you. Been ringing from Lyme since 2015. Doctors say, must be your hearing. I told them it’s Lyme induced and they said it must be from hearing loss so I got tested again with no hearing loss. Why is having Lyme disease so damned controversial? I didn’t say I was bitten by a unicorn so now I have unicorn disease! Pulled out the tick, got mysterious symptoms that won’t go away almost 5 years of not stop symptoms but I must be a nutcase. No, really I like being sick for no reason, yes so much fun. I… Read more »

Connie
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Connie

Diagnosed with & tick borne disease, not Lyme, am sick with fevers, neck aching , headache under & behind eyebrows, fatigue dry cough, low grade sore throat & most concerning & horrible is a fullness in my ears & head! Like I’m underwater with pressure to point of ear canals throbbing! What is this? Started antibiotic 2 days ago. Please advise.

Amy Veldman-Wilson
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Amy Veldman-Wilson

I have a question about anaplsmosis..In 2015 I was diagnosed with Lyme disease after developing Bell’s palsy. I received 21 days of doxycycline and sent home. In 2016 I developed severe angiodema to the point where I couldn’t walk well, having what felt like marbles on the bottoms of my feet. I was told there was no known cause. In the spring of 2016 I was diagnosed with Lyme again and treated for 21 days with doxycycline. During my treatment I noticed the angiodema began to go away. In August 2017 I began to have difficulty breathing, and still was… Read more »

PJ M.
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PJ M.

I have lyme, babesia and RMSF. Can’t. breathe, tinnitus, severe anxiety, sinus issues, stabbing neuro pains, plus others. Sorry, i know how you feel. Hope you get well soon. Look for a local support group and share info.

Marcia
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Marcia

I have been diagnosed lyme disease, bartonella and babesia. I have had severe vertigo and constant ringing in my ears. Before rmsf my ears felt muffled and my pt job was to answer phone. I couldn’t hear to do that and couldn’t hear behind me. I feel now like it’s hard to hear, always ringing and vertigo.

DEANNA R GILMOUR
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DEANNA R GILMOUR

My husband was treated for 18 months with various different ABX and most of the Lyme symptoms are gone. I’m afraid that the antibiotics have wiped out his gut flora and now he has SIBO ( small intestine bacterial overgrowth) (Methane dominant) and is having a devil of a time trying to deal with that. It is very difficult to get rid of… he has been on Xifaxan and neomycin. I guess that the bacteria that resides in the colon has made its way up to the small intestine and I don’t know how to fix it.

Eric
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Dr. Thanks for input. My question is simple. How long can one be on antibiotics until its harmful or you create a resistant strand against bacteria. My concern is if I get sick from a cold and need additional antibiotics for the cold or flu.

Susan Buchholz
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Susan Buchholz

I found out today that I have lost all hearing I right ear. I have most of all that different ones have spoke about in blog. CAN SILVER COLLITAL or Wild oregano help. CAN hearing loss be reversed if you kill off the bugs.

JAMES A MCGAUGHAN
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JAMES A MCGAUGHAN

In June of 2018 I stared getting some mild tinnitus and dizziness. After runnning a marathon type race through the mountains in September I got the flu for 5 days. After that my symptoms spiraled out of control to the point of near death. I tested negative for lyme and positive for babesia. I begged a doc to treatment with antis and was hospitalized for a week. I did two weeks on ceftriaxone and am on my second month of doxy. I am also just starting a 10 day course for babeisa (pills and liquid). Many things have improved but… Read more »

Mike
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Mike

Keep up the treatment. You will have symptoms come and go for years. You have to find the right balance and keep the disease under control so your body can defend itself.

PJ M.
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PJ M.

I have BB, babesia and RMSF same symptoms but additional too. Babesia needs treating with anti malarials, anti parasitics.

Mark
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Mark

From my personal experience Lyme associated diseases definitely can effect hearing. I’ve been a musician and avid audiophile for many decades and spent years “training” my ears to be able to hear subtle differences. Since getting bitten by a tick, developing a bullseye rash and getting very ill I have experienced painful distortion triggered by loud high pitched sounds. I had never experienced anything like this until getting Lyme disease. After extensive treatment for Lyme and associated diseases my sensitivity to loud high pitched sound has substantially abated. I am thankful that there are SOME doctors with an understanding of… Read more »

SHERRY
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I am currently waiting for lab results for Lyme. I thought I had been tested a long time ago and found out Friday I have never been tested and live in NH and at a campground 6 months out the year. Began vertigo and other symptoms nearly 2 yrs ago and then a rear end car accident the end of 2017. Jan 2018 woke up with sensorineural hearing loss and have tinnitus and severe balance problems but also joint related issues with legs, speech difficulties, left facial and tongue numbness, knee problems periodically, night sweats last year (thought it was… Read more »

Debbie M.
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Debbie M.

After a few months of mild vertigo, I lost almost all hearing in one ear, suddenly in 2011. Following my DX of atypical Meniere’s disease, I eventually learned I tested positive for Lyme disease (positive PCR but negative Western blot), borellia miyamotoi, anaplasmosis and chronic form of brucellosis. I have had years of multiple antibiotic and herbal treatments with LLMD’s, including IV rocephin and clindamycin. I still suffer from deafness in one ear with tinnitus in both, that is of a very different quality. I hear whooshing and low electronic sounds in my deaf ear and high pitched ringing in… Read more »

Rebecca
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Rebecca

My husband had Lyme 15 years ago and has just
Recently suffered bilateral hearing loss with tinnitus and aural pressure. His MRI was clear, tried course or oral abx , 6 weeks of prednisone . No improvement noted. Would be be a candidate
For IV abx?

Linda Braydon
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Linda Braydon

It’s pitiful that there are so many of us who cannot Avail ourselves of alternative methods of testing for lack of money.

Andrew Martin
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Andrew Martin

I have had neural Lyme Disease since 1997. I was first diagnosed with MS and then was later diagnosed with Transverse Myleitus and MS dx was dropped. Symptoms partially cleared for TM over the course of 2-5 years but I still have some residual symptoms, numbness on face and forehead, sometimes on hand or tips of fingers, toes or shins. Beginning last December I began to experience, first a pop in my right ear followed by fullness and then vertigo and tinnitus with significant hearing loss. Now I have just the tinnitus and hearing loss in the mid and upper… Read more »

Lisa
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Lisa

My tinnitus is increasing sharply over past 6-8 months. Diagnosed with Lyme in 2010. This is the least bothersome of my symptoms though. The others are debilitating.

Buffie LaRocca
Guest
Buffie LaRocca

yep…” bilateral meniers” and never ending roaring tinitis. I would like to see if it is realated to all the abx though. Is it the infections or the years of multiple abx that have caused it. I would love more research and to be able to participate in a trial about this. It is my most dibilitating sypmtom for sure. have stopped driving bc of hearing and balance, I could possibly handle the rest of my symptoms and still work, but this put me into disability. I want to solve it and get back to life!!

Sandra
Guest
Sandra

I ma interested in this myself. Tinnitus started after taking large amounts of iodine, which can act like an antibiotic, it felt triggered by something, a virus. I tracked the onset in my symptoms journal i was taking at the time. I cannot sleep. I havent gone down the lyme, chronic infection route cause i have no money and from what im hearing, i want to avoid any antibiotics at all costs? For fear of intensifying the tinnitus. I feel like the two are linked, tinnitus, and chronic infection/antibiotics. I have also noted a lot of people, after taking thyroid… Read more »

LL
Guest
LL

Diagnosed with Menieres years before Lyme/Bartonella diagnosis. Tinnitus began decades before that! Had irretractable vertigo and “drop attacks”, which led to two procedures on rt ear to kill the balance nerve (and hearing 🙁 ).
Hearing aids in both ears now. Still have loud Tinnitus. Lyme in remission after seven years of treatment!

J Stirr
Guest
J Stirr

I was on intravenous ceftriaxone for 11 months and started experiencing tinnitus in my 8th or 9th month of treatment…any explanation???
I still have tinnitus, headaches/migraines, occasional blurred vision, sharp noise issues however have to watch TV as much higher volume than others in the family, aching teeth/sore jaw and cracked tongue with sensivity issues to heat and spicy food and hyper to smells…
Willing to be guinea pig to determine why I still have these symptoms after treatment 9 yrs later

Karin Van Norstrand
Guest
Karin Van Norstrand

Yep, that’s me. Diagnosed with Babesiosis and Lymes. Have been on antibiotics for 5 weeks last summer, and than again for almost 3 weeks earlier this year. Have to cut my hrs at work due to residual symptoms. Ringing in ears started abt 5 weeks ago.