Covid link to hearing loss research

To help answer whether Covid really does cause hearing loss The UK’s Manchester Biomedical Centre has received funding from 2 charities, Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID, until recently known as Action on Hearing Loss) and the Dowager Countess Eleanor Peel Trust.

Professor Kevin Munro, Director (research) of the Manchester Centre of Audiology and Deafness (MacCAD), has become the go-to UK expert between COVID and other health conditions.

The basis for the research is the premise that viruses such as measles, mumps, and meningitis are known to damage hearing, so it is possible that this coronavirus can also result in hearing loss. In an earlier 2020 study by the Manchester researchers, adults with COVID-19 were followed up eight weeks after hospital discharge, more than one in ten of them self-reporting a deterioration in their hearing or the presence of tinnitus.

The proposed further research will involve use of a mobile test facility to assess 218 patients who have been discharged from hospital, half with COVID-19.

The coronavirus has been found to affect the body in myriad ways, from a loss of taste and smell to organ damage. Now doctors have reported fresh evidence that Covid could also affect hearing.

Experts at University College London report the case of a 45-year-old man with asthma who was admitted to intensive care with Covid, ventilated, and given drugs including the antiviral remdesivir and intravenous steroids.

A week after leaving intensive care he developed a ringing sound – tinnitus – and then hearing loss in his left ear.

The team say none of the medications the man was given would be expected to cause damage to his hearing, while he had no problems with his ear canals or ear drums. Further investigation showed no sign of autoimmune problems, while he did not have flu or HIV – conditions previously linked to hearing loss. What’s more, the man had never had hearing problems before.

Subsequent tests revealed the man had sensorineural hearing loss in his left ear – a situation where the inner ear or the nerve responsible for sound is inflamed or damaged. This was treated with steroids with partial success.

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