Can Covid-19 Affect Your Ears
A coronavirus infection has a long list of side effects and long-term complications. It is possible that hearing loss and tinnitus could be among those complications.
COVID-19 is of course new and ongoing research will tell us more. Different viral and bacterial infections can cause sudden hearing loss though. Many COVID-19 symptoms are not seen with the initial onset of the virus until weeks later. This may be the case with hearing issues.
Hearing Loss and Tinnitus with COVID-19
Of course, there are a lack of studies done on this topic as the pandemic took the world by storm in recent years. Future studies will bring clarity to the research. A study done in February 2021 found that 7.6% of people reported hearing loss as a long-term symptom and 14.8% of people reported tinnitus after testing positive for COVID-19.
There are a number of medications used to treat the Coronavirus. Some of these medications have a risk of hearing loss, including quinine, chloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine. The effects of the medicine may be misdiagnosed as symptoms of COVID-19.
Some Coronavirus patients who have experienced long-term effects of the Coronavirus report earaches, dizziness, and vertigo. It is rare for someone to experience hearing loss as a result of COVID-19. There is no way to predict whether a person is likely to experience this because researchers have not found a pattern in the way COVID-19 affects different people.
Middle-Ear Infection with COVID-19
Fever and headache are common symptoms of the Coronavirus as well as an ear infection. Ear infections happen when fluid builds up in the ear and becomes infected. Ear infections usually happen after the cold or flu.
Ear infections are not usually reported as a symptom of the Coronavirus. It is possible to develop one following a COVID-19 infection, though.
There was a study done that linked the Coronavirus to the deterioration of the cochlear hair cells. This could result in tinnitus or a middle-ear infection. There is a lot of information with small study sizes that point out new possibilities but a lot more research is needed to understand the effects of COVID-19 and middle-ear symptoms.
Hearing Loss Triggered by COVID-19
Scientists are in the dark about how COVID-19 can cause hearing loss. One theory is that COVID-19 causes cellular stress which causes cells to deteriorate when the Coronavirus causes so much stress on the body.
Another theory is that your body’s own immune system can go into hyper-alert mode and attack your own body causing damage from the immune response. The timing of COVID-19’s effects on people is not understood and very unpredictable.
The pandemic has made many people afraid to visit their healthcare providers for fear of being exposed to the virus in offices. This causes them to go too long without checkups and possibly missing signs of more serious issues.
Similarly, when you are infected with the virus you should stay home. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your healthcare provider for advice on COVID-19 precautions. As soon as you are no longer contagious you can get a hearing screening to catch any early signs of hearing loss.
Hearing Loss With No Other Symptoms
There have been some cases reported where a patient had hearing loss without any other symptoms after testing positive for COIVD-19. There have been small studies done that point to hearing loss with the study participants.
These studies are of course small but the results are still surprising. One study showed 20 people who tested positive for COVID-19 without any symptoms and their hearing tests showed them performing worse than normal. These study participants had no history of hearing loss.
You really don’t know how well you’re hearing until you get your ears checked!
Treatment for COVID-19 Related Hearing Loss
If you experience any sudden hearing loss, see your health care provider as soon as possible for medical attention. Early steroid treatments seem to protect your hearing from further damage. Long-term hearing loss is prevented with a quick response to changes in hearing.
Once you have recovered from COVID, getting your ears checked just to be safe isn’t a bad idea. Especially when it may have been a long time since your last hearing screening.
These are some common signs of hearing loss. If you’re experiencing any of these, visit your health care worker for a hearing screening:
- frequently asking others to repeat themselves
- turning up the volume on the TV and radio
- missing the doorbell or phone ringing
- you can hear people speaking but misunderstand the words
- you think that others are mumbling
- you hear a ringing noise in your ears
Feeling confused, overwhelmed, and off-balanced are also signs of hearing problems. Although the majority of patients who test positive for the Coronavirus will not experience hearing loss, knowing the signs can give you peace of mind.
Hearing loss is also very common among many people, especially those over 65 years old. Therefore, regular hearing checks are recommended whether you have had COVID-19 or not.
Southwestern Hearing Centers is available for hearing screenings and to address any concerns you may have with your hearing issues. Sometimes peace of mind is all you need and that is worth taking the time to get checked out.
Although hearing loss is not a common COVID symptom, it is definitely something that is getting more attention among the Coronavirus’s array of symptoms. Unusual symptoms can certainly be life-changing and the sooner you get treatment the less impact it will have on your life.