If you’re exposed to a lot of loud sound and don’t use ear protection, you may experience hearing loss down the road. Hearing loss may be in your future, for example, 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 across the world have been ravaged by all of the numerous symptoms and side-effects of Covid-19, and that may include problems with hearing.
Maybe? Probably? Alright, we’re still in the early phases of really understanding Covid-19. 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 where is this research currently at.
Does the Covid vaccine cause hearing loss?
So here’s the first thing to remember: The Covid-19 vaccine has never been proven to cause hearing loss. All of the currently approved vaccines have this in common. Vaccines don’t impact your ears, they just don’t work that way. It would be like blaming your diabetes on the salad you ate for dinner.
This applies to the brand new mRNA vaccines and the more established ones. For the majority of individuals, the risks are greatly exceeded by the advantages. If you have questions about vaccines, be certain to talk to your doctor, and get answers from a reputable source.
Okay… with that off the table, let’s discuss hearing loss.
So, how does Covid cause hearing loss?
So how is hearing loss caused by this? Particularly, how does it cause the kind of hearing loss that is the result of damage to the auditory system which is usually permanent, known as sensorineural hearing loss?
Well, there are a couple of theories. Either one of them could cause hearing loss or both together.
Theory #1: inflammation
Covid-19 creates inflammation in your upper respiratory tract, and the theory is that this inflammation eventually affects your ears. After all, your nose, mouth, and ears are all linked. There are two ways this might cause hearing loss:
- Fluid buildup: Fluid has a more difficult time draining because inflammation has made the drainage channels more narrow. As this fluid accumulates, it becomes harder to hear. Once the symptoms clear up, your hearing will typically go back to normal (if this takes place, you’re not dealing with sensorineural hearing loss).
- Damaged cells: Keep in mind that viruses use your body’s own cells to replicate. The result is damage. And because Covid affects your vascular system, this can in some cases result in damage to the vascular links 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. There’s still a continuing effort by scientists to find a way to prevent sensorineural hearing loss. How much protection from this kind of hearing loss the vaccines will provide 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 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 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 are still unsure exactly what causes Long Covid, but there’s no doubt it’s a real thing.
Data about long-term hearing complications was systematically reviewed by scientists and a report was published in February 2021. The review found that:
- 14.8% reported experiencing tinnitus
- 7.2% of individuals reported vertigo
- 7.6% of individuals reported hearing loss after becoming ill with Covid.
Whether these auditory problems are caused by Long Covid or just associated with it isn’t very clear, but it’s safe to say there’s a relationship of some kind. Long covid seems to initiate a broad constellation of symptoms, including those that impact your hearing.
Evidence or anecdote?
When someone talks about how they got Covid and had hearing issues ever since, that’s an anecdote. It’s one single story. And while it’s a fact of life for them, it isn’t really enough for scientists to go on when developing treatment plans. So research is essential here.
Researchers will be able to get a better comprehension about the hazards of Covid as they gather more information about how extensive these complications are.
We undoubtedly have to learn more. Research is continuing, which means the link between Covid-19 and hearing loss isn’t necessarily proven or unproven. No matter how you developed hearing loss, however, it’s still essential that you get treatment as soon as you can. So call us if you suspect you might be developing hearing loss.
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