Hearing Loss and COVID-19
COVID-19, also referred to as coronavirus, has become increasingly linked to several long-term medical complications such as lung damage and neurological disorders. More recently, a possible link between COVID-19 and hearing loss has been identified and investigative research is being carried out to gain further understanding on this, alongside any possible effects the COVID-19 vaccination has on hearing.
Sudden Hearing Loss From COVID-19
While research is not yet conclusive to say whether COVID-19 has a direct effect on hearing loss, there have been several reported cases of a sudden onset sensorineural hearing loss following the infection, within the UK1 as well as around the world. It is not surprising that there have been cases of hearing loss following a COVID-19 infection, as many other types of infection, both viral and bacterial, have been known to cause hearing loss.
If you have experienced a sudden hearing loss after a COVID-19 infection, then you should seek urgent medical attention in order to identify the cause and receive time-sensitive treatment to manage the hearing loss.
Hearing Loss After COVID-19
Further evidence shows people are experiencing hearing loss after COVID-19 as part of ‘long-COVID’ and can also include the presence of tinnitus. While this is still rare, a systematic review2 conducted in February 2021 based on a retrospective recall of symptoms from studies dated from the beginning of the pandemic to December 2020, concluded that there are multiple reports of audio-vestibular symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Hearing Loss After COVID-19 Vaccination
One Israeli study3, noted that just 91 people out of approximately 2.5 million experienced a sudden hearing loss after the first dose of the Pfizer-BioTech MRNA vaccine, and 79 people after the second dose. The conclusion was that there might be an association between the COVID-19 vaccination and an increased risk of sensorineural hearing loss, however further research is required to investigate this possible association. A study carried out in the US4 determined that with a data set of less than 600, the connection between the vaccination and sudden sensorineural hearing loss is no greater than what you would see in the general population.
Hearing loss can be caused by a wide range of issues and may not be related to COVID-19 or the vaccination. If you believe you are suffering from hearing loss due to COVID-19, or for any other reason, speak to our expert audiologists to identify the cause and most appropriate management for you. Our hearing assessments include examination of the ears and full audiometric hearing tests, as well as a lifestyle assessment to provide you with advice tailored to your needs.
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Points of Reference:
2 Ibrahim Almufarrij & Kevin J. Munro (2021) One year on: an updated systematic review of SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 and audio-vestibular symptoms, International Journal of Audiology, 60:12, 935-945, DOI: 10.1080/14992027.2021.1896793
3 Yanir Y, Doweck I, Shibli R, Najjar-Debbiny R, Saliba W. Association Between the BNT162b2 Messenger RNA COVID-19 Vaccine and the Risk of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2022;148(4):299–306. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2021.4278
4 Formeister EJ, Wu MJ, Chari DA, et al. Assessment of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss After COVID-19 Vaccination. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2022;148(4):307–315. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2021.4414