We have learned a lot about this novel virus over the past year, but there’s still so much to find out. According to new research out of the University of Manchester and NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), hearing loss and tinnitus have been linked with COVID-19.
The researchers reviewed literature from 28 case reports/series and 28 cross-sectional studies and published their report in the International Journal of Audiology. They determined that multiple reports of hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo were identified in adults with a wide range of COVID-19 symptom severity. The researchers estimated that:
- 7.6% of participants developed hearing loss.
- 14.8% of participants developed tinnitus.
- 7.2% of participants developed vertigo.
The studies used self-reported questionnaires in addition to medical records rather than conducting any audiological hearing evaluations.
Why Are These Symptoms Linked?
According to Kevin Munro, Professor of Audiology and lead researcher on the study, “It is well-known that viruses such as measles, mumps and meningitis can cause hearing loss, [but] little is understood about the auditory effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” He continued, “Though this review provides further evidence for an association, the studies we looked at were of varying quality so more work needs to be done.”
This study is only just the beginning. Munro and his team are currently working on a year-long study to determine the long-term impact COVID-19 has on the auditory system in patients who were admitted to the hospital for treatment. They hope to figure out how the auditory system is affected by the virus and to get a more accurate count of the number of patients who developed hearing loss following severe COVID-19 symptoms.
This new study will also take into account factors such as lifestyle, additional medical conditions and critical care interventions.
While there is a long way to go before researchers truly understand the long-term impact COVID-19 has on a patient, knowing the symptoms may help inspire patients to continue following guidelines like social distancing when at Portland Farmers Market and wearing a mask. To learn more about the connection between hearing loss and COVID-19 or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact Audiology Center Northwest today.