The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a public health emergency on January 30, 2020, and ever since then, doctors and researchers have been learning new symptoms and side effects of the virus. While only small studies have been conducted on the topic, researchers are now suspecting that hearing loss may be added to the list of COVID-19 related symptoms.
Viruses and Hearing Loss
There are several viruses that can cause hearing loss. Some damage the inner ear structure or cause an inflammatory response, which can then cause damage. Others can increase your susceptibility to bacterial or fungal infection, which can also lead to hearing loss.
Most viruses that lead to hearing loss cause sensorineural loss, while those like HIV cause conductive hearing loss.
Hearing loss caused by a virus can range from mild to profound and is often the result of direct damage to structures of the inner ear.
Asymptotic COVID Patients and Hearing Loss
The clinical symptoms currently associated with COVID-19 are:
- Gastrointestinal infection
The elderly and those with underlying diseases are most susceptible to infection and serious outcomes associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome.
There is a large number of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 but do not show any of these symptoms. Dr. Mustafa, the author of “Audiological profile of asymptomatic Covid-19 PCR-positive cases,” was interested at looking at the impact this virus has on the auditory system in patients not exhibiting symptoms.
Dr. Mustafa followed 20 cases ranging between 20 to 50 years of age who tested positive for COVID-19 but exhibited no symptoms. None of the participants had a history of hearing loss. A control group of 20 healthy individuals were examined as well.
The participants completed the following tests:
- Audiologic evaluation (both air and bone conduction)
- Immittance evaluation
- Transient evoked otoacoustic emissions
The researchers found that high frequency pure-tone and transient evoked otoacoustic emissions were significantly worse in those diagnosed with COVID, compared to healthy individuals. This tells us that the virus may cause damage to the hair cells within the cochlea, even if patients are not experiencing any other symptoms of the virus.
To learn more about the connection between hearing loss and COVID-19 or to schedule a hearing test with an expert, contact Aaron’s Hearing Aid & Audiology Center today.