Viral causes of hearing loss: a review for hearing health professionals

Trends Hear. 2014 Jul 29;18:2331216514541361. doi: 10.1177/2331216514541361.


A number of viral infections can cause hearing loss. Hearing loss induced by these viruses can be congenital or acquired, unilateral or bilateral. Certain viral infections can directly damage inner ear structures, others can induce inflammatory responses which then cause this damage, and still others can increase susceptibility or bacterial or fungal infection, leading to hearing loss. Typically, virus-induced hearing loss is sensorineural, although conductive and mixed hearing losses can be seen following infection with certain viruses. Occasionally, recovery of hearing after these infections can occur spontaneously. Most importantly, some of these viral infections can be prevented or treated. For many of these viruses, guidelines for their treatment or prevention have recently been revised. In this review, we outline many of the viruses that cause hearing loss, their epidemiology, course, prevention, and treatment.

Keywords: HIV; West Nile virus; cytomegalovirus; hearing loss; herpes simplex type 1; herpes simplex type 2; lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus; measles; mumps; rubella; rubeola; sensorineural hearing loss; sudden sensorineural hearing loss; varicella zoster virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hearing
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss / physiopathology
  • Hearing Loss / prevention & control
  • Hearing Loss / therapy
  • Hearing Loss / virology*
  • Humans
  • Recovery of Function
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Virus Diseases / complications
  • Virus Diseases / diagnosis
  • Virus Diseases / therapy
  • Virus Diseases / virology*