Lyme Disease or Noise Exposure?

Good evening all,

I did a search of the entire forum and only found “Lyme disease” in 9 threads other than my own posts in my introduction thread. So I would like to revisit a question one of the other forum member asked back in Dec 2011 and only got one response and it was that they have never heard of such a thing…so I will ask it again.

Has anyone else here suffered from bilateral hearing loss from Lyme disease?

I was in denial about my bilateral HL & tinittus up until very recently. Because assorted doctors initially told me that I was probably experiencing temporary HL due to Lyme bacteria exposure in my cochlear and/or ototoxicity from Doxycycline hyclate in high doses over a prolonged time frame. Both of which should subside within 18-24 months.

But my new ENT/Audi team say I have a pretty significant hearing loss no matter what my situation was/is. They are very surprised I waited two and half years through treating my multiple Lyme bacterial exposures/infections (3x) and all the associated complications the Lyme disease caused before I solicited their expertise.

A small part of me is still wondering if my hearing loss is actually due to work related noise exposure. I have been using a Plantronics Encore Monaural Headset for 10+ years in a Police Department Dispatch Center. Callers are almost always loudly screaming, crying, yelling or cursing (or all at once) into my left ear approximately 4-8 hours a day, 5 days a week for the past 10+ years.

Just food for thought in case any of you see something in my recent audiogram (below) that does not seem to or usually identify as a bacterial / medication exposure hearing loss. I am trying to learn everything I can about my HL now that I know it is a life long concern. Thank you ahead of time.

No experience with lyme disease. But, your left ear loss looks very similar to the loss I had in my left ear in my younger days, except my low frequency hearing was good. My loss in my right ear was significantly less. I had some testing done and essentially it was determined that my left ear loss was due to large caliber firearm use without adequate ear protection in my later teen years. I had a .264WM and regularly shot it without hearing protection, as well as a 12 gauge shotgun. It did not do anything good for my ears, and especially my left one. I am right handed and the left ear seems to take the brunt of the muzzle blast.

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That is very interesting. I am also very much into firearms and target shooting. I used to have to qualify each year for work, but am now in an unarmed position at the PD. But I always have used proper ear protection while shooting. When I was younger, that was the only way I thought of and was scared of damaging my ears permanently. Not all the construction tools I worked with, loud rock concerts I attended, engines and exhausts on motorcycles & cars, etc. Those latter items didn’t phase me much during my 20’s. Now I am quite sensitive to loud noise in that left ear. Thank you for sharing.

Doxy is a known ototoxic drug. So are many other drugs that treat simple everyday infections. So is Ibuprofen. If you want to educate yourself on hearing loss, pay attention to the ototoxic drugs. I had a significant decrease in hearing after taking Doxy for my eyes. I already had hearing loss, wearing hearing aids for 20 years when the drastic loss occurred. I am now very mindful of the ototoxic drugs and refuse to take them. The Doctors - they are concerned and treat the ailment in front of them. In your case with the severe Lyme, taking Doxy may have been unavoidable. My money, in your hearing loss, is on the Doxy.
It sounds like you have made a good recovery from the severe Lyme Disease.

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Mago, thank you so much for sharing such personal info with me. I am sorry you experienced a similar situation. It is hard to believe the medication that was “saving me” was also hurting me at the same time. I look forward to getting to know many of you on this forum for the long journey I have ahead in the HR user world. I am happy to know there is high likelihood of me doing well with a proper HR solution at my current prescription. I look forward to enhancing my quality of life. Thanks again.

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While you likely experienced hearing injury from the noise exposure you describe, it does not sound like enough to explain the magnitude of your hearing loss all on its own.

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Yes, my experience was that firearm muzzle blast noise was quite selective. Mainly damaged left ear and in the upper midrange. My low and very high frequencies used to be very good based on workplace audiograms. That was before old age kicked in. And, I’ve owned a motorcycle for 50 years, and with open face helmets at highway speeds they are not exactly quiet either. Noise does not explain all of the OP’s issues, but it may be part of it.

Could this be a workplace compensation claim issue? Don’t know how this works in the US.

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Sierra, I do know if my issue will ever be considered a workplace comp issue either. My job did require paperwork to document my HL in my left ear. Then I had to do a proficiency test to prove I am not doing my job at a subpar level even without the HAs. Our phone system has a huge adjustable dB gain via analog knobs and digital adjustments. So before my test I amped up my phone system about 75% louder than most my coworkers use and I got the job done fine (as always). I will ask my Audi and ENT if they think this may be work related. That would probably change everything for me, because the government agencies I work for would lijely then have to pick up the $3,000 balance my medical insurance doesn’t cover on the pair of OPN-S1 I was fitted with during my in office demo.

I don’t know if this is relevant but my dog suffered a serious tick infection (erlichia cannus) and had two rounds of doxy to try and fight it. Unfortunately the treatment failed both times so he still has it because the toxic load is extremely large in these bugs. Now I am noticing that he does not seem to hear as well as he used to and misses many instructions that I give him. I use to think that he was getting senile (he is 10+ years old) or just lazy. But this new information is something I should probably explore.

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That would suggest that your work phone system and Plantronics has an allowable hazard that could damage hearing simply by increasing the volume beyond healthy, acceptable limits. Yikes! if that is the case, which I doubt, this would be a nationwide issue.

Perhaps, your Audi is willing to make a better deal on the Oticon OPN 1 --not the S1. It is the previous model, still very much current and liked by many, myself included. If you are confident in your ENT/Audi team, speak to them earnestly about the situation, and how they and/or their Oticon rep is willing to help.

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I had Lyme Disease. Fairly certain that my hearing loss was caused by the LD or one of the resulting autoimmune disorders triggered by it. Wasn’t the antibiotic therapy because I lost the hearing before I was treated. I had LD at least 10 years before they figured it out, then I was on IV abx for 8 weeks and oral abx for 6 mo. Only person in my family with hearing loss and there’s no physical reason for my hearing loss. I’m open to other suggestions, but for now, I’m not chasing zebras.

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