COVID-19 and Hearing Loss
It has been established that different types of viral and bacterial infections, such as measles, mumps, rubella, and meningitis, can lead to hearing loss.(1) However, “older coronaviruses that triggered epidemics, such as SARS and MERS, did not appear to cause hearing problems.” Now, some small studies indicate that hearing loss may be a side effect for some people diagnosed with COVID-19.
A study in Manchester, UK included 138 adult patients who had been admitted to the hospital because of severe COVID-19 symptoms. Eight weeks after discharge from the hospital, the participants were interviewed, and 13.2% reported a change in their hearing and/or tinnitus since becoming ill with COVID-19.(2)
Another study set out to determine the impact of COVID-19 on people who had pre-existing tinnitus. Researchers used an online survey with 3,103 individuals responding from 48 countries. Of those responding with pre-existing tinnitus, 40% expressed worsening of their tinnitus symptoms while having COVID-19.(3) Although the study was aimed at those with pre-existing tinnitus, seven individuals reported having COVID-19 initiated tinnitus.(3)
There are emerging reports that indicate the COVID-19 infection may result in injuries to structures in and around the peripheral and central auditory systems, which could lead to hearing loss.(4)
“Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is defined as a hearing loss of at least 30dB in at least three consecutive frequencies that has developed within three days.”(5) According to the National Institute of Hearing Disorders, a number of disorders can cause SSHL, including infection, head trauma, autoimmune disease and blood circulation problems. In most cases, a cause cannot be identified.(6)
A third study regarding COVID-19 and hearing loss reported on a 45-year-old man who was admitted to the hospital with severe COVID-19 symptoms. The study was published in BMJ Case Reports. Along with other symptoms, the patient experienced sudden hearing loss.(7) An examination of the ear showed no obstruction or inflammation. “The tympanic membranes were intact, but he exhibited left-sided sensorineural hearing loss with a negative Rinne’s test on the side and Weber’s test lateralizing to the opposite ear. Upon having a pure tone audiogram, it was confirmed that he had hearing loss and was subjected to a series of intratympanic steroid injections.”(8)
For hospitals and ENT practices, Edge Pharma offers Dexamethasone 24 mg/mL in a prefilled, unit-dose syringe.
(1) Victory, J. Healthy Hearing, COVID-19 and Hearing Loss: What We Know, https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/53127-Coronavirus-hearing-loss-tinnitus-covid
(2) Munro, K. M.D., Uus, K. M.D., et. al., International Journal of Audiology, Persistent Self-reported Changes in Hearing and Tinnitus in Post-hospitalization COVID-19 Cases, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14992027.2020.1798519?scroll=top&needAccess=true
(3) Beukes, E. Ph.D., Baguley, D. Ph.D., Frontiers in Public Health, Changes in Tinnitus Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/
(4) Marcoux, A. Ph.D., Dostaler, M. AuD., Ste-Marie, J. AuD., WS Audiology, Canada, Emerging Reports of Hearing loss During the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Importance of Accessibility to Audiological Services, https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/
(5) National Institute of Health, Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/
(6) National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Sudden Deafness, https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/
(7) Kouma, F., Forde, C., Manjaly, J., BMJ Journals, Sudden Irreversible Hearing Loss Post COVID-19, https://casereports.bmj.com/
(8) Betsaida, A. Medical News, COVID-19 Can Cause Sudden Permanent Hearing Loss in Rare Cases, https://www.news-medical.net/news/