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, particularly if you frequently expose yourself to loud noise. Hearing loss might be in your future, for instance, if you work on a noisy factory floor without hearing protection. These are fairly common and well known causes of hearing loss. But within the past few years, a new cause has entered the fray. Yup, you guessed it, 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. Some research does suggest that Covid-19 is linked to hearing loss, but that research is also rather early and is still waiting for more data to back it up. So let’s have a look at where things stand right now.

Does the Covid vaccine produce hearing loss?

So, let’s get this out of the way right away: There’s absolutely no proof that the Covid-19 vaccine triggers hearing loss. All of the currently approved vaccines have this in common. That just isn’t how these vaccines work, they don’t affect your ears at all. It would be like eating a nice healthy salad and then declaring that it was the cause of your diabetes.

This applies to the brand new mRNA vaccines and the more established ones. Which means that the advantages of these vaccines still vastly surpass the risks for most people. Speak with your doctor and find reputable information if you have any questions about vaccines.

Let’s talk about hearing loss now that we’ve cleared that up.

So, how can Covid cause hearing loss?

So how is hearing loss triggered by this? Specifically, how does it trigger the kind of hearing loss that is the result of damage to the auditory system which is normally irreversible, known as sensorineural hearing loss?

Scientists have a couple of theories. Either one of them could cause hearing loss or both together.

Theory #1: inflammation

Covid-19 produces inflammation in your upper respiratory tract, and the idea is that this inflammation ultimately impacts your ears. After all, your nose, mouth, and ears are all linked. This might produce 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 accumulates, hearing becomes difficult. After the symptoms clear up, your hearing will usually go back to normal (this would not be an example of sensorineural hearing loss).
  • Damaged cells: Remember that viruses utilize your body’s own cells to replicate. The consequence is damage. Sometimes, damage to the vascular connections between your ears and your brain happens because of the way Covid impacts your vascular system. This would be considered sensorineural hearing loss, and would probably be effectively permanent.

Steroids are sometimes 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 provide is not clear, 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 bit less understood with regards to cause and effect. There’s something called Long Covid which you, by now, have most likely heard about.

People will go through symptoms of Covid when they are dealing with Long Covid, long after they have recovered from the actual virus. Often, a debilitating bout of long Covid that lasts for months, or longer, after having Covid itself, is experienced. Scientists still aren’t sure precisely what causes Long Covid, but there’s no denying it’s a real thing.

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

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

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

Evidence or anecdote?

It’s anecdotal when someone states that their hearing has been off since they got Covid. It’s only one person’s narrative. When researchers are trying to devise a treatment plan, these personal stories, while they are part of everyday life for the individuals, aren’t enough for researchers to go on. So research is critical here.

Researchers will be able to get a clearer comprehension about the dangers of Covid as they accumulate more information about how extensive these difficulties are.

We certainly need to learn more. Research is continuing, which means the link between Covid-19 and hearing loss isn’t actually proven or unproven. No matter how your hearing loss develops, however, it’s still important that you seek out treatment as soon as you can. So give us a call if you think you might be developing hearing loss.

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