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

If you’re subjected to a lot of loud sound and don’t wear hearing protection, you might experience hearing loss later in life. Hearing loss may be in your future, for example, if you work on a loud factory floor without ear protection. These are pretty common and well recognized causes of hearing loss. But there’s a new fighter in the ring, and you can probably guess who it is: Covid-19.

People all around the world have been ravaged by all of the numerous symptoms and side-effects of Covid-19, and that might include issues with hearing.

Maybe? Probably? Okay, Covid-19 is still a very new virus. And scientists are learning something new about it all the time. Some research does indicate that Covid-19 is connected to hearing loss, but that research is also somewhat preliminary and is still waiting for more facts to back it up. So let’s take a look at where things stand at the moment.

So can hearing loss be triggered by Covid-19?

So, let’s get this off the table right off the bat: There’s utterly no evidence that the Covid-19 vaccine leads to hearing loss. That’s true for all of the currently approved and available vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna to Novovax. Vaccines don’t impact your ears, they just don’t work like that. It would be like blaming your diabetes on the salad you had for dinner.

This is true of both the conventional vaccines and the new mRNA vaccines. For most people, the risks are greatly outweighed by the advantages. Speak to your doctor and find reputable information if you have any questions about vaccines.

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 triggered by this? Particularly, how does this cause sensorineural hearing loss, the type of hearing loss that results from damage to your auditory system and is typically permanent?

Scientists have a couple of theories. These theories, we should point out, aren’t always mutually exclusive. They can both be relevant!

Theory #1: inflammation

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

  • Fluid buildup: Fluid has a harder time draining because inflammation has made the drainage channels more narrow. It becomes harder and harder to hear as this fluid continues to accumulate. Once the symptoms clear up, your hearing will typically go back to normal (if this happens, you’re not experiencing sensorineural hearing loss).
  • Cell damage: Keep in mind that viruses use your body’s own cells to replicate. This can cause damage. In some cases, damage to the vascular links between your brain and your ears occurs because of the way Covid affects your vascular system. This situation is sensorineural hearing loss and will be generally irreversible.

When hearing loss is caused by a buildup due to inflammation, steroids can often be helpful. There’s still a continuing effort by scientists to find a way to prevent sensorineural hearing loss. How much protection from this type 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 significant when it comes to patients’ experience, but a little less comprehended with regards to cause and effect. By now, you’ve most likely heard about something called Long Covid.

Patients will go through symptoms of Covid when they are experiencing Long Covid, long after they have recovered from the actual virus. Sometimes, patients will experience a mild bout of Covid followed by a debilitating Long Covid experience that lasts for months (or longer). Scientists still aren’t sure exactly what causes Long Covid, but there’s no denying it’s a real thing.

Data about long-term hearing problems was systematically reviewed by researchers and a report was published in February 2021. Here’s what the review discovered:

  • Vertigo was reported by7.2% of people
  • Tinnitus was reported by 14.8%
  • After having Covid, hearing loss was reported by 7.6% of individuals.

There’s definitely a connection between Long Covid and hearing problems, but it’s unknown if there’s a direct cause and effect association. Long covid seems to cause a broad constellation of symptoms, including those that affect your hearing.

Anecdote or evidence?

When somebody talks about how they got Covid and had hearing issues ever since, that’s an anecdote. It’s only one person’s narrative. And while it’s a fact of life for them, it’s not actually enough for researchers to go on when developing treatment plans. That’s why research is so critical.

As researchers unearth more evidence that these hearing difficulties are fairly extensive, they’re able to establish a clearer image of the dangers associated with Covid-19.

Of course, there’s still more to learn. The link between Covid and hearing loss isn’t either proven or unproven at this time and research is ongoing. Regardless of how you developed hearing loss, however, it’s still crucial that you seek out treatment as soon as you can. So if you think your hearing isn’t what it once was, call us to make an appointment.

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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.
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