Hearing loss from COVID-19


 

As we zoom past the one year anniversary into this pandemic, we have learned a lot about the Covid-19 virus. 

We now have a better understanding of what some of the main symptoms are and how it affects different people based on their age, sex and economic standards. 

Now there are multiple vaccines available and we can now begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  

One of the lesser talked about symptoms of Covid-19 has been how it affects ones hearing.

While it is not one of the most prevalent symptoms, it still affects 7.6% of people during or after their bout with the virus.  Due to the small sample size and lack of more in depth research and studies, there are no clear answers as of yet as to why Covid-19 affects ones hearing. 

Right now there are mainly hypothesis' that scientists believe with further study would give a better answer to these questions.  Some of their findings so far suggest the virus could affect the following: 

  • Inflammation of the cochlea, the spiral tube that forms part of the inner ear or neuritis, inflammation of a nerve.
  • Cross-reactions where antibodies or t-cells misidentify inner ear antigens as the virus, leading to accidental damage of the inner ear.

  • Blood clots and other coagulation abnormalities which could lead to vascular disorders in the ear.

  • The production of too many pro-inflammatory cytokines, which is immune-mediated are often seen in severe cases of Covid-19.

Considering how many people have contracted Covid-19 and how few of those people have experienced hearing loss, there are lots of unanswered questions.

Thankfully new studies are about to begin to help answer questions like: 

  • What are, if any, the short and long term affects Covid-19 has a person's hearing? 
  • What parts of the ear are damaged and how severe is the damage? 
  • Is there any relation between hearing loss from Covid-19 and other health issues?

Researchers and scientists are hopeful they will be able to find the answers to these questions later this year.  In the meantime, people need to understand that Covid-19 might not just be a respiratory disease.

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