Over the past year, COVID-19 has been linked to a number of long-term conditions, such as heart damage, lung damage and neurological problems. Emerging data shows that hearing loss may also be the result of being infected with the coronavirus.
Hearing Loss as an Initial Symptom
In rare cases, sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) can occur as an initial symptom of COVID-19.
An Iranian report from June of 2020 found that several patients experienced sudden hearing loss in one ear in addition to vertigo. Another report published around the same time showed that an Egyptian man who tested positive for the virus but had no other symptoms also experienced SSNHL.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is an audiological emergency. Seeking prompt treatment increases the chances of regaining your hearing.
Hearing Loss as a Later Symptom
It is slightly more common, though still overall rare, to develop hearing loss and other ear-related problems like tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or dizziness in the days or weeks after being diagnosed with COVID.
One systemic review published in February 2021 found that:
- 7.6% who were infected reported hearing loss.
- 14.8% reported tinnitus.
- 7.2% reported vertigo.
Auditory Problems for COVID-19 Long-Haulers
COVID-19 “long-haulers” refers to those who have prolonged symptoms related to being infected with the coronavirus.
In a survey of 650 long-haulers, approximately a third reported earaches, and two-thirds experienced dizziness and vertigo; only one reported hearing loss.
According to the researchers, there appears to be no predictable pattern as to who may experience auditory symptoms or when.
Auditory Problems as a Side Effect of Treatment
Some of the medications used to treat COVID-19 are associated with a relatively high-risk of hearing loss, ringing in the ears, dizziness and vertigo as a side effect. The main culprits are quinine, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.
It’s possible that the side effects may be misdiagnosed as being caused by COVID.
Hearing Problems & Vaccinations
Vaccines make it so we can visit the Augusta Farmers Markets without worrying about catching the coronavirus. Fortunately, researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine examined the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System and found no link between sudden hearing loss and vaccinations. In fact, the rate of SSNHL appears to be lower among those who have been vaccinated.
For more information about the link between COVID-19 and auditory problems, call the experts at Augusta ENT today.