Researchers are on the hunt to discover if there is, in fact, a connection between COVID-19 and hearing loss.

Colds and flu often ‘go to our heads,’ filling our sinuses and ears with mucousy fluid that can become very uncomfortable. Many people get so ‘full of cold’ that they lose their hearing entirely until the infection has passed, and still, hearing can take a little longer to restore.

Covid-19 isn’t exempt from these symptoms.

The virus is known to migrate to different parts of the body, sinus, lungs, heart, and liver, and now we can add the middle ear to the list. The virus, SARS-CoV-2, has been detected in the middle ear of COVID-19 patients, and there has been a growing concern as a result.

Associate professor of otolaryngology, C. Matthew Stewart, explained that infection in that part of the body could lead to a whole host of symptoms associated with other types of viral infections in that area. Severe inflammation leads to tinnitus, dizziness, loss of balance, and more, which can persist even after other illness symptoms have subsided.

Medications Used In The Treatment of COVID-19 Are Ototoxic

Certain medications used to tread Covid-19 are ototoxic and could cause hearing loss. While there is not enough evidence to draw a direct link between a SARS-CoV-2 infection and hearing problems, there may be other factors, such as these medications, which are certainly playing their role.

Face Masks and PPE Reveal hearing Loss

The safety measures enforced, such as social distancing and the wearing of face masks have also inadvertently made many people aware that they have a hearing loss that they didn’t realize they had beforehand. “For most people, it’s not much of an issue. But in elderly patients who may already have some hearing loss, this can sometimes push them to the point where they’re having difficulty understanding speech,” Steward said.

Face masks muffle sounds, reduce the volume of speech, and obscure facial cues – making it even more difficult to understand people than before. People who have gone into hospital exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 may not be able to understand the medical professionals in their PPE.

PPE might contribute to the realization of a hearing loss, but was the hearing loss there before? Did it manifest due to COVID-19? Is it a symptom of the disease? Or did it manifest as a result of the treatment of COVID-19 using ototoxic medications? This information is what the experts are trying to establish to ensure the aquaracy of the studies conducted.

Fox Valley ENT Associates Are Here To Help

The public can expect to see more hearing-specific studies surface. If you experience worsening or sudden hearing loss in the meantime, contact us right away. Early treatment can prevent permanent damage in some instances.

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Joseph, T Pacer

Joe Pacer has been an Audiologist with Fox Valley Ear, Nose & Throat Associates since 1988. He received his Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders from Northern Illinois University in 1986 where he continued and received his Master of Arts in Audiology in 1988. He is a member of the American Academy of Audiology. Joe works closely with his patients and has extensive experience performing hearing evaluation as well as recommending, fitting and trouble shooting hearing aids.