Bizarre Hearing Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Otoborreliosis is the condition in which Lyme affects hearing. "Oto" meaning "Of or pertaining to the ear" and "Borreliosis" meaning "Borrelia".
Hearing is probably the second most relied upon sense of the human body for interacting with the world. It's the primary sense that has evolved to not only better serve our ability to communicate with others, but to also provide a defense mechanism against possible threats.
Much like the eyes, the ears can also become directly affected by Lyme Disease and its coinfections, specifically Bartonella. Some hearing symptoms are unique to the circumstances of an individual's infection, and some symptoms are quite common among those infected with Lyme or other possible coinfections. Some symptoms become exacerbated during a herxheimer reaction, while others may manifest but once during the whole ordeal. As the bacteria disturbs the nerves within the ear, inflammation will commence, which many times happens to be the sole cause for many hearing problems, and not always the bacteria itself.
An interesting, but also incredibly unnerving hearing symptom of Lyme Disease. The voices from others, as well as the voice of the person who has Lyme Disease, may sound like a robot's voice. The words another person utters are distorted within the ear, and the person with Lyme perceives them as almost robotic-like. The words appear to the ears as broken.
More commonly referred to and known as "ringing in the ear", it's probably one of the most common hearing symptoms of Lyme Disease. If you've ever been exposed to unreasonably loud music, or any sound that becomes overwhelming to the ear, you more than likely experienced a ringing in the ear depending on how loud the sound was. In the beginning stages of Lyme Disease, the ringing is nearly constant and never seems to fade. However, as treatment begins and progresses, the ringing in the ear become less noticeable and frequent. The ringing itself may even be exclusive to just one ear, as opposed to both, reflecting the course and location of the infection. Loud noises can definitely enhance the ringing and make it more prominent.
The Aliens Are Calling
This symptoms appears to be just an extended version of tinnitus. When this symptom occurs, it's completely by random chance, with no loud sounds being the culprit or cause. The symptom has two parts, but lasts for just a few minutes. When the symptom begins, a person will feel as if a hand is slowly covering their ear. As this strange symptom progresses, a ringing in the ear become louder and more prominent. The symptom itself is best described as "The aliens are calling" ,or "I can hear their radio waves", because the person humorously believes they've become more susceptible to what would be considered by humans as alien communication transmissions.
Just as with light sensitivity, a person's hearing may at times become increasingly sensitive to sound. Even the sounds that were once not considered to be excessive before, are now too excessive for the ears. The sensitivity is usually short lived and not a constant bothersome symptom, but there are extreme cases where a person's hearing can become and remain extremely sensitive. It's best to avoid noises that irritate hearing for the time being, even if they were once never considered to be excessively loud.
Being the complete opposite of hearing sensitivity, this symptom is exactly as it sounds. A person's ability to hear may weaken and become less acute during a battle with Lyme Disease. There may be bursts of hearing loss in which a person's hearing may be normal one day, and the next day they're having trouble hearing. Such an indication of hearing loss from Lyme Disease includes turning music up, and never feeling the level of sound is satisfying enough to the ears.
Bug in the Ear
One of the more frightening, but interesting ear symptoms of Lyme Disease is the delusion of a bug crawling around in one's ear. Though there really exists no bug in the person's ear, crackling/buzzing sounds and tingling sensations yield the illusion that there is. The symptom itself is so deceiving that the person experiencing it may refuse to believe that a bug is not burrowing in their ear canal. They will be adamantly persistent about the presence of a bug, but in reality, there is nothing there! The denial to accept this truth may stem from our brain's innate, but sometimes flawed ability to interpret specific sounds as either threats or non-threats. If this symptom is really bugging you, pun intended, it wouldn't hurt to have someone such as a doctor peer into your ear to calm your nerves. This symptom is usually short-lived.
Usually all ambient noise has to be reduced in order to experience this symptom. Those with Lyme Disease may hear a perpetual, but faint buzzing or humming noise when all other noise activity surrounding them has ceased. While similar to the "bug in the ear" symptom in regards to the type of sound produced, this symptom can last for an extended period of time. And unlike the bug in the ear symptom where ambient noise need not be reduced to experience it, a quiet room or environment will usually be what is needed to allow a person to be conscious of this symptom.
Remedies & Solutions
- Hearing Loss - Essential oils such as lavendar or helichrysum may help restore hearing loss. Rub the oil behind the ear, especially towards the bottom, the front parallel to your side burns, and in the cup of the ear; never put an oil directly into the ear canal.
- Tinnitus - The essential oil peppermint has been found to temporarily relieve ringing in the ears. Apply in the same manner as the oil(s) above.
- Hearing Sensitivity - If you find your ears have become incredibly sensitive, purchase ear plugs; especially if you intend to expose yourself to noises that were considered loud even before you had Lyme Disease.
Also on Tired of Lyme
Subscribe to Tired of lyme!
Subscribe to Tired of Lyme's mailing list and get notified of new articles!