Since COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, researchers have been scrambling to learn more about the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle/body aches, headache, loss of taste/smell, sore throat, congestion/runny nose, nausea/vomiting and diarrhea as possible symptoms; however, recent research shows that hearing loss may also be a lasting symptom of COVID-19.
What the Research Shows
The first reported case of hearing loss caused by COVID-19 was published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology at the beginning of April. According to the report, among the 82 cases of coronavirus in Thailand, one older female developed hearing loss that persisted even after her respiratory symptoms were gone. A research group in Turkey commented, “Probably, a neuro-auditory problem developed in the patient … Hearing loss in COVID-19 infection has never been reported in the literature so far” on the original report.
One week later, an Egypt study of 20 asymptomatic COVID patients found decreased hearing abilities. These results were based on multiple auditory tests of patients 20-50 years old with no prior history of hearing problems. “The results of the current study showed that Covid-19 infection had deleterious effects on the hair cells in the cochlea … Moreover, the absence of the major symptoms does not guarantee a safe, healthy cochlear function,” study authors explained.
In June, an Iranian study examined six COVID-19 patients with mild clinical symptoms whose ages ranged from 22 to 40. All patients had mild to moderate hearing loss in one ear, four had tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and two had vertigo (balance problems). None had previous hearing concerns. “It is highly likely that these otologic symptoms are directly related to/caused by Covid-19,” the Iran otolaryngologist concluded.
Finally, a July study by Johns Hopkins detected SARS-CoV-2 genetic material in the middle ear and mastoid bone in two of out of three deceased COVID-19 patients. “This study confirms the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in the middle ear and mastoid, with significant implications for otolaryngology procedures,” explained the study authors.
What You Can Do
To prevent COVID-19 and associated hearing loss, be sure to practice good hygiene, social distance and wear a cloth face mask in public. If you have concerns about your hearing, you can schedule a telehealth visit with one of our expert audiologists.
For more information or to schedule a visit, call the Hearing Health Centers today!