Did You Say Something?
Last updated: April 2022
As an individual that lives with psoriasis, do you ever find yourself asking the following questions?
Can you hear that?
Did you say something?
Could you repeat that?
I'm sorry I didn't hear you?
If so, you may be experiencing hearing loss. Hearing is a delicate thing and when your skin is involved it can become an even trickier situation.
Psoriasis in and around the ears
An average person's skin sheds every 28 to 30 days. This isn't the case for those who live with the chronic condition of psoriasis - those individuals, well their skin sheds 4 times faster. The skin builds up into plaques.
Psoriasis doesn't discriminate against body parts and can indeed build up on the outer ear or the auricle. This can cause intense itching, drying, and often bleeding. Sometimes it can cause infections. A popular place for infection is on the backside of the ear. The crevices in the shape of your ears are popular for infection as well.
The deliacy of the ear
The ear canal or Eustachian tube is a small canal that leads to the eardrum and inner ear. This area is covered in the skin as well. Your skin helps you produce the oily wax that keeps foreign objects out of your ear. And you guessed it, the skin here can be affected by psoriasis as well.
Once again, it can build up plaque and itch horribly. Most patients want to itch the area and will put cotton swabs and other similar objects in the canal. Doing this it can cause some of the skin to be removed but it can also push it further into the ear and impact it.
My journey with hearing loss
Ear wax and skin can impact or form a tight blockage across the eardrum. This causes the ear to be muffled and sounds like you are underwater. Over time if this is ignored it can lead to hearing loss. For some, the answer is a simple ear cleaning with an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist. For others like me, it can lead to profound deafness.
I began with frequent ear infections and sinus issues. Then, I was diagnosed at age 30 as being profoundly deaf. My ENT had a full conversation with me asking me questions about my history. I answered them all. He laid his hand on my shoulder and told me that he had not spoken only mouthed the words.
I am profoundly deaf
How much hearing loss was I experiencing? It was time to find out. I had my hearing loss tested by an audiologist. My scores indicated what I had been told by the ENT. I am profoundly deaf. Over time I learned to read lips to compensate for my hearing loss. I wear hearing aids now. They are hard to adjust to.
With my loss, I gain back about 1/2 of my normal hearing. Wearing my aids is tiring because I go from little hearing to hearing what seems like everything.
Pay attention to your ears
Now I live in two worlds. The land of being heard with a voice and the land of deafness. I know some American Sign Language. I do best with lip-reading because it's my natural defense mechanism. I fit best with hearing people because I have heard before.
My best advice is to be sure to have doctor check-ups with your ears. If you find yourself asking people to repeat what they have said, increasing the volume on your television, or other listening devices - let your doctor know. The audiology tests are simple headphones, saying words, and raising your hand when you hear a sound. A simple test can save your hearing.
Does your psoriasis management change with the seasons?