Sensorineural Hearing Loss After Covid-19

New studies are showing that a lot of people are reporting hearing loss after COVID-19

You might develop hearing loss as you get older, especially if you frequently expose yourself to loud noise. Likewise, if you work on a noisy factory floor and don’t use ear protection, hearing loss may be in your future. These hearing loss causes are rather common. But there’s a new fighter in the ring, and you can probably guess who it is: Covid-19.

People throughout the world have been ravaged by all of the many symptoms and side-effects of Covid-19, and that might include problems with hearing.

Maybe? Probably? Okay, Covid-19 is still an extremely novel virus. And something new about it is being uncovered all of the time by scientists. There is some research which indicates that hearing loss could be a potential side effect of Covid-19, but more research still needs to be done to back this up. So let’s take a look at where things stand at the moment.

So can hearing loss be caused by Covid-19?

So here’s the first thing to remember: There’s utterly no proof that the Covid-19 vaccine leads to hearing loss. That’s true for all of the presently approved and available vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna to Novovax. Vaccines don’t affect your ears, they just don’t work like that. It would be like blaming your diabetes on the salad you had for lunch.

This applies to the brand new mRNA vaccines and the more conventional ones. For the majority of people, the risks are vastly exceeded by the advantages. If you have questions about vaccines, make sure to talk to your doctor, and get answers from a reputable source.

Okay… with that out of the way, let’s talk about hearing loss.

So, how does Covid trigger hearing loss?

So how is hearing loss caused by this? Particularly, how does this lead to sensorineural hearing loss, the type of hearing loss that results from damage to your auditory system and is generally irreversible?

Well, there are a couple of hypotheses. Either one of them could cause hearing loss or both together.

Theory #1: inflammation

The first substantial theory among scientists is that Covid-19 causes considerable inflammation in the upper respiratory tract, and that this inflammation can ultimately impact your ears. After all, your nose, mouth, and ears are all connected. This may result in hearing loss in a couple of ways:

  • Fluid buildup: Fluid has a harder time draining because inflammation has made the drainage pathways more narrow. As this fluid builds up, it becomes harder to hear. Once the symptoms clear up, your hearing will normally return to normal (if this takes place, you’re not experiencing sensorineural hearing loss).
  • Damaged cells: It’s essential to remember that viruses reproduce by taking over your body’s own cells. This can cause damage. And because Covid affects your vascular system, this can in some cases cause damage to the vascular connections between your brain and your ears. This situation is sensorineural hearing loss and will be generally permanent.

Steroids are occasionally prescribed when hearing loss is a result of inflammation. Researchers are still looking for a way to prevent sensorineural hearing loss caused by cell damage. How much protection from this sort of hearing loss the vaccines will supply is unknown, but it’s better than no protection.

Theory #2: Long Covid

The next hypothesis is more substantial in regards to patients’ experience, but a bit less understood in terms of cause and effect. At this point, you’ve probably heard about something called Long Covid.

Long Covid is a condition in which people experience symptoms from Covid long after the actual virus has left their body. Often, a debilitating bout of long Covid that drags out for months, or longer, after having Covid itself, is experienced. There’s no doubt, Long Covid is real, but scientists are still unsure why.

In February of 2021, researchers published a systematic review that evaluated data about long-term auditory problems resulting from Covid-19. The review discovered that:

  • Vertigo was reported by7.2% of people
  • 7.6% of people reported hearing impairment after getting Covid.
  • 14.8% reported developing tinnitus

Whether these auditory difficulties are caused by Long Covid or just associated with it isn’t entirely clear, but it’s safe to say there’s some kind of relationship. A variety of symptoms, including hearing issues, come from Long Covid.

Evidence or Anecdote?

It’s anecdotal when someone says that their hearing has been off since they got Covid. It’s only one person’s narrative. And while it’s a fact of life for them, it’s not necessarily enough for scientists to go on when devising treatment guidance. So research is critical here.

Researchers will be able to get a better comprehension about the hazards of Covid as they obtain more data about how widespread these complications are.

We definitely have to understand more. The link between Covid and hearing loss isn’t either proven or unproven at this point and research is continuing. Regardless of how you developed hearing loss, however, it’s still essential that you seek treatment as soon as possible. So call us if you suspect you may be developing hearing loss.

References

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2022.883749/full
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14992027.2021.1896793?journalCode=iija20&

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.