COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has been known to cause a wide range of symptoms beyond respiratory issues. Recent reports have highlighted a lesser-known effect of the virus: hearing loss. While it is not yet definitively proven, there have been case reports and studies suggesting a link between COVID-19 and hearing problems.
In some cases, COVID-19 may damage the cells of the ear responsible for transmitting sound information to the brain. Researchers believe that the virus could enter the cells of the ear and cause damage, or the immune response to the virus could harm the ear cells. This damage to the cochlear nerve, which connects the brain to the inner ear, could result in impaired hearing.
Some studies have shown that a small percentage of COVID-19 patients experience hearing loss. One study found that 12-13% of adults who had COVID-19 in the previous six months had some degree of hearing loss. COVID-19 can damage the inner ear and the auditory pathway, and hearing loss can be a symptom of long COVID-19.
Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 have reported various hearing-related symptoms, including total or partial hearing loss, difficulty understanding speech, and persistent ringing or hissing sounds in the ears (tinnitus). However, it's important to note that these symptoms are rare, and many people with COVID-19 do not experience any hearing problems.
While the exact mechanism behind COVID-19-related hearing loss is still being studied, doctors recommend seeking medical attention if sudden hearing loss occurs. Treatment often involves reducing swelling around the cochlear nerve with steroids. Regular hearing exams are also recommended, as they can serve as a benchmark for detecting any changes in hearing over time.
Overall, the connection between COVID-19 and hearing loss is not yet fully understood. More research is needed to determine the extent and causes of this potential side effect. However, it is important for individuals to be aware of the possibility and seek medical attention if they experience any changes in their hearing.