Can Rickettsial Diseases Lead to Acute Hearing Problems?

hearing loss and Rickettsial diseases

Rickettsial diseases are a group of bacterial diseases. They are caused by various germs, including the Rickettsia bacterium.

These diseases are difficult to diagnose, but they can be very dangerous. Without prompt antibiotics treatment, Rickettsial diseases can be fatal in 20-60% of cases.

Symptoms to look out for include headaches, a fever, and a rash. There is also a connection between hearing loss and Rickettsial diseases.

Who Is in Danger of Rickettsial Diseases?

The most common types of Rickettsial diseases are:

  • African tick-bite fever
  • Mediterranean spotted fever
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Scrub typhus

They are generally transferred by fleas, ticks, and other parasites. People who work with dogs are especially at risk.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the only Rickettsial disease you can commonly find in North America. But tourists are at risk of other Rickettsial diseases as well. It’s important to look out for any signs of sickness after overseas vacations.

The Link between Hearing Loss and Rickettsial Diseases

Scientists have found that scrub typhus can lead to acute hearing problems. 20-30% of people who have contracted scrub typhus show signs of hearing problems in both ears.

The inner ear is the source of these hearing issues. It’s not clear yet whether scrub typhus impacts hearing by directly attacking the nervous system, or whether the problems come from an immune system reaction.

Scrub typhus is endemic to Australia and East Asia, and it affects around a million people every year. Tourists visiting these areas should be very careful and report symptoms immediately. Hikers and campers are at a higher risk since they are likelier to come into contact with diseased parasites.

But research shows that other Rickettsial diseases can cause hearing problems too. This includes Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which you can easily contract at home.

By establishing a link between hearing loss and Rickettsial diseases, scientists have made it easier to get a diagnosis in time. If you notice hearing difficulties combined with fever and a rash, seek out medical help immediately.