Picture of shoes with sock above pants.When you think of wearing socks, keeping your feet warm may be the first thought to come to mind. But what if we told you that wearing your socks when the days are warm and inviting is even more important?

In fact, wearing socks could help protect your hearing from what you may consider an unlikely threat — the tick.

Here’s why.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. It’s most commonly transmitted through tick bites. Symptoms can begin within as few as three days, or they can be delayed by up to a month. This can lead people to delay treatment. They don’t associate their current symptom with a hike they took several weeks ago.

The early signs of Lyme disease can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Around 70-80% of people get a rash that looks a lot like a Bull’s Eye — Red center, white ring, then red outer ring at the bite source.

But it’s the not so easily seen effects that are much more sinister.

Untreated Lyme Disease

For the 20-30% of people who don’t have the rash, the symptoms of Lyme disease just seem like the flu. These people may not seek treatment at all. Even if they do, false negative results are common.

Lyme disease that receives delayed treatment moves to the brain. When it does it can cause:

  • Cognitive decline
  • Memory Recall issues
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Severe hearing loss
  • Tinnitus (ringing of the ears)

The neurological damage caused is irreversible, but further damage can be stopped with treatment.

Preventing Lyme Disease

Prevention is your best weapon against Lyme disease. There is currently no vaccine for Lyme disease. Like so many things in life, prevention comes from taking common-sense steps when you go where there may be ticks.

How Ticks Hunt

Ticks spend their time in high grasses and bushes. In southern states, they prefer to hide under fallen leaves during the hottest months. They are almost exclusively found in the Eastern half of the U.S.

Most ticks sense their prey by body odor and breath. When they find their prey, they latch on, numbing the site so that they can sit on the skin to feast on your blood undisturbed for 1-3 days.

Be Prepared

If you’re going where ticks may be, dress appropriately in long pants and high socks. The vast majority of ticks wait for prey below knee level, making thick socks a very effective deterrent.

The fabric of thick socks can act as a barrier. If the tick is expecting human flesh and instead encounters cotton, they’re less likely to attach. Staying covered also allows you to wear ample repellant without having to spray your skin. Spray clothing, boots and gear.

Get a Buddy

Because the tick has to be in place for around 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease, check yourself for ticks after a hike. And ask a buddy or significant other to check places you can’t see like your back. Use a mirror if you have no other options. But you may need help to remove it.

Clamp tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up. The tick will hold on. Be firm. Treat the area with iodine or rubbing alcohol.

Your Audiologist’s Role

Your audiologist is aware that sudden hearing loss could be just one symptom that indicates an even bigger problem. Getting your hearing tested could not only save your hearing. If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms talk to a professional and get tested for Lyme disease.