Can Multiple Sclerosis Cause Hearing Loss?

This blog post has been reviewed and approved by a hearing care professional.

If you have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), you may wonder if it can cause hearing loss. Hearing loss is a possible symptom for people who have MS, but it is uncommon. Only about 6% of people with MS report hearing impairment.1 The cause of hearing loss can sometimes be due to other non-MS related issues. Common causes of hearing loss include aging, exposure to loud noises, excessive earwax, damage to the eardrum, and ear infections, among other things. If the hearing loss is a symptom of MS, it may be associated with damage to the hearing nerve pathways in the brain.

Although hearing loss is not a common MS symptom, it is a risk factor for having sensorineural hearing loss. In fact, the likelihood of someone with MS having it far exceeds that of the normal population.2 Sensorineural hearing loss is a permanent type of hearing loss that occurs in the hair cells of the inner ear.
MS and Sudden Hearing Loss

Hearing loss may take place during an acute exacerbation, which is also known as a relapse, attack or flare-up of MS?. This is the occurrence of new symptoms or the worsening of old symptoms. For 4 to 10% of MS patients, sudden sensorineural hearing loss happens between relapses or remissions.3 Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing either all at once or over a few days.


Most acute episodes of hearing loss caused by MS will tend to improve over time. However, some people may experience longer lasting changes to their hearing. It is important that if you experience sudden hearing loss you have a hearing assessment as soon as possible. It is recommended to complete the testing and follow up with an ENT or otolaryngologist within 48 hours whenever possible. They may be able to provide treatment options to improve the hearing loss.

MS and Tinnitus

Evidence suggests that tinnitus occurs in about 1% of MS cases.4 Tinnitus is often described as a ringing, buzzing or humming in the ears but it can be experienced differently from person to person. This noise is not from an external source as no one else around you would hear it. The mechanisms of tinnitus are still not well understood at this time.


Multiple sclerosis can interrupt the natural hearing process which could cause tinnitus. When your ears receive any sound, it is picked up by the inner ear hair cells. These hair cells send electric impulses through the auditory nerve to your brain to process the sound. One theory is if the hair cells or auditory nerve become damaged, that is when tinnitus may occur.

The Takeaway

Since hearing loss caused by multiple sclerosis is uncommon, it is recommended that people with multiple sclerosis who develop hearing loss get their hearing tested by a hearing care professional. 

Has it been a year since your last hearing test? Hearing evaluations are recommended annually as they allow us to monitor your hearing health. This means any hearing loss you may be experiencing can be identified and treated earlier. Contact one of our local hearing centres across Canada to book an appointment today.

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1 “Hearing Loss.” National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Accessed February 2, 2023.

2 “Managing Relapses.” National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Accessed February 2, 2023.

3 Tekin, Muhammet, Gul Ozbilen Acar, Osman Halit Cam, Fatih Mehmet Hanege. “Sudden sensorineural hearing loss in a multiple sclerosis case.” National Library of Medicine. Dec 8, 2014. Accessed February 2, 2023.

4 Ralli, Massimo, Arianna Di Stadio, Irene Claudia Visconti, Francesca Yoshie Russo, Maria Patrizia Orlando, Maria Paola Balla, Antonio Greco, Marco de Vincentiis. “Otolaryngologic Symptoms in Multiple Sclerosis: A Review.” The International Tinnitus Journal. Accessed February 2, 2023.