Covid-19 and hearing loss – an update

Many patients who’ve contracted Covid-19 have subsequently reported symptoms affecting their ears, including hearing loss, tinnitus, dizziness, and problems with balance. This suggests that the virus may be able to infect the inner ear, and a report from MIT and Massachusetts Eye and Ear in October 2021 proves this is indeed the case.

Researchers from MIT found that the virus can not only infect the inner ear, but specifically the hair cells in the ear which are pivotal to sensing head motion and maintaining balance. From a sample of ten Covid-19 patients who reported ear related symptoms after being infected with the virus, nine suffered from tinnitus, six experienced vertigo and all ten experienced mild to profound hearing loss.

And there are increasing anecdotal reports that the Delta variant is more likely to cause earaches and ear infections because it causes more upper respiratory symptoms, putting more pressure on the ears.

Routine testing and finding treatment

Of course, the overall number of Covid-19 patients who’ve experienced ear related problems is unknown. Routine testing as a result of the virus hasn’t been readily available and perhaps understandably, more life-threatening complications have been prioritised. But researchers now hope to use their findings to test possible treatments for the inner ear infections caused by Covid-19 and other viruses.

The good news is that sudden hearing loss is rarely a symptom of catching the corona virus. But it is more common (though rest assured, still rare) to develop hearing loss, tinnitus or dizziness days to weeks later.

What to do if you test positive and have sudden hearing loss

If you are tested positive for Covid-19 and you experience sudden hearing loss, you’re advised to seek medical care immediately to increase your chances of getting your hearing back.

If you have any concerns about your hearing and your ear health, get in touch with your local Audiologist for a free consultation.

Sources: MIT News Office, October 29 2021.