COVID-19 has recently been associated with long-term health problems including heart disease, lung disease, and neurological disorders. New research is coming out on whether hearing loss and tinnitus can be a side effect of COVID-19 - it may be a symptom or a complication that emerges days or weeks after becoming infected.
We have been aware of different bacteria and virus infections that may abruptly lead to hearing loss. Previous versions of coronaviruses that caused epidemics, like SARS and MERS, did not appear to be the root of hearing issues.
Hearing Loss: COVID-19
Symptoms of sudden hearing loss had been a rare symptom of coronavirus.
A report from June 2020 indicated several Iranian patients informed healthcare workers about experiencing hearing loss in one ear, along with vertigo. Another report showed an Egyptian man who did not show any other coronavirus symptoms had developed sudden hearing loss, and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
Other than these reports, there has not been any additional research that was published.
Please be aware that sudden hearing loss, whether it’s in one ear or both, is a medical emergency that should be treated immediately. The faster you receive treatment, the more likely you will restore your hearing.
Hearing Loss caused by COVID-19
What has been shown as slightly more common, but still rare, is experiencing hearing loss or tinnitus due to COVID-19. This suggests that hearing loss or tinnitus are not immediate symptoms of the virus, but can develop at a later time.
There was a case in October 2020 based on a 45-year-old man from the U.K. who developed tinnitus and sudden hearing loss in one ear after becoming critically ill with COVID-19. His hearing was partially restored after accepting steroids for the hearing loss.
It cannot be proven that COVID-19 was the direct cause of the man’s hearing loss, but it appears to be very likely that is what happened. It was also reported that he did not receive any ototoxic medications.
Additional research is needed to determine the long-term effects of COVID-19 on hearing health.
Can COVID-19 Weaken Your Hearing?
A study from Israel examined 16 patients, where half had tested positive for COVID-19 and half tested negative. There were no differences seen in the group members’ auditory nerves.
The study is still in progress. There were 16 test subjects enrolled, and all of the patients were asymptomatic. Researchers plan to conduct a larger study, which would include those with more severe complications due to COVID-19.
Side Effects of COVID-19 Medication
Some medications that are used to treat COVID-19 lead to a high risk of side effects including hearing loss, tinnitus, or vertigo. These medications include chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, and quinine.
In Conclusion: Hearing Loss and COVID-19
Additional research is necessary to get a better understanding of how COVID-19 impacts hearing and balance.
If you, or a loved one, are experiencing hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a free hearing test and consultation. Please contact our office before stopping in at one of our locations in Elizabethtown, Lititz, Mt. Joy, or Strasburg.