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COVID-19 Patients Could Lose Hearing, Study Finds

Smell and taste aren’t the only senses impacted by COVID-19, according to new research.
female having ear pain touching her painful head

Several months ago, researchers determined that people who were infected with COVID-19 were experiencing a loss of two senses: smell and taste. Some even reported the symptoms were lingering, unable to smell or taste for months after the virus had left their body. Now, some of those suffering from the highly infectious virus are reporting another lingering sense loss as a result of the virus — hearing. 

Their Hearing Got Worse

According to a small study conducted by audiologists at the University of Manchester and published in a letter to the International Journal of Audiology, coronavirus survivors are experiencing hearing complications, with many claiming they are lasting long after they are released from the hospital. 

The research team surveyed 120 adults hospitalized with COVID-19 eight weeks post hospitalization. 16 people reported their hearing was worse, 8 claimed their hearing had deteriorated, and 8 reported tinnitus (hearing noises that are not caused by an outside source).

"We already know that viruses such as measles, mumps and meningitis can cause hearing loss, and coronaviruses can damage the nerves that carry information to and from the brain," researcher Kevin Munro, a professor of audiology at the University of Manchester, explained in a press release

"It is possible, in theory, that COVID-19 could cause problems with parts of the auditory system including the middle ear or cochlea."

Urgent Need for Studies

Researchers did note that more research is needed to pinpoint exactly how the virus affects hearing.

"While we are reasonably confident in the differentiation of preexisting and recent changes in hearing and tinnitus, we urge caution," Munro continued. 

"It is possible that factors other than COVID-19 may impact on preexisting hearing loss and tinnitus. These might include stress and anxiety, including the use of face masks that make communication more difficult, medications used to treat COVID-19 that could damage the ear, or other factors related to being critically ill," he explained.

"That is why we believe there is an urgent need for high-quality studies to investigate the acute and temporary effects of COVID-19 on hearing and the audiovestibular system. Timely evidence for decision-makers is urgently needed, so we need to be able to act quickly." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.

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