Researchers are continuing to learn more about how COVID-19 infections are having a long-term health impact on those who recover from the virus, which has killed over 215,000 Americans in less than nine months. A slew of symptoms have been reported by survivors, ranging from physical to psychological. But one of the scariest so far is highlighted in a new case study published in BMJ Case Reports: irreversible hearing loss. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
"He Noticed Tinnitus and Sudden Onset Hearing Loss"
The report, courtesy of University College London and the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, details the case of a 45-year-old asthmatic man who was hospitalized for a severe COVID-19 infection. After being intubated for over 30 days, he developed tinnitus in his left ear, and then the sudden loss of his hearing altogether.
"A 45-year-old patient with asthma presented to our otolaryngology department following a week of hearing loss while in hospital for the treatment of COVID-19," the report reads. "A week after extubation and transfer out of the intensive care unit, he noticed left-sided tinnitus and sudden onset hearing loss. He had no previous history of hearing loss or ear pathology."
The physicians attempted to treat him with "the administration of steroids" for seven days, "which resulted in partial subjective improvement in his hearing." However, after further treatments, his hearing failed to improve.
After doing thorough research, they identified three case reports and two case–control studies linking hearing loss to COVID-19.
One study published in the International Journal of Audiology determined that 13% of 138 people discharged from the hospital reported hearing changes or ringing of the ears. The Long Hauler Survey also found that 233 out of 1,567 of surveyed COVID survivors reported tinnitus or "ringing in the ears."
However, they noted that "Hearing loss and tinnitus are symptoms that have been seen in patients with both COVID-19 and influenza virus but have not been highlighted." Researchers hope their findings will encourage other medical experts to keep an eye out for COVID-induced hearing loss.
"Screening for hearing loss is suggested in the hospital environments to avoid missing the treatment window and decreasing hearing loss-associated morbidity," they write.
"More and More People Have Hearing Loss"
Over the weekend, CNN profiled an American woman who also lost hearing in one ear after suffering a coronavirus infection. "We're hearing more and more that people have hearing loss as part of their COVID infection," Dr. Matthew Stewart, associate professor of otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins Medicine who was part of a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, told the outlet.
As part of his study, he conducted autopsies on three people who died of COVID. He found the virus in the middle ear and mastoid bone in the skull, located just behind the ear.
He is "suspicious that [the novel coronavirus] has the potential to be worse" than other viruses in terms of hearing damage, due to its blood clotting abilities in other parts of the body and possibly in the "extremely small blood vessels" in the inner ear. If you have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above, call a medical professional, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.