You might develop hearing loss as you get older, particularly if you regularly expose yourself to loud noise. Likewise, if you work on a noisy factory floor and don’t use hearing protection, hearing loss may be in your future. These are pretty common and widely 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 throughout the world have been ravaged by all of the many symptoms and side-effects of Covid-19, and that might include issues with hearing.
Maybe? Probably? Okay, Covid-19 is still a very new virus. And something new about it is being discovered all of the time by scientists. Some research does indicate that Covid-19 is linked to hearing loss, but that research is also somewhat preliminary and is still waiting for more information to back it up. So let’s have a look at where things stand currently.
So can hearing loss be caused by Covid-19?
So here’s the first thing to keep in mind: 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 affect your ears, they just don’t work that way. It would be like consuming a nice healthy salad and then declaring that it was the cause of your diabetes.
This is true of both the conventional vaccines and the new mRNA vaccines. For the majority of people, the risks are greatly exceeded by the advantages. If you have questions about vaccines, make sure to speak with your doctor, and get information from a reputable source.
Okay… with that out of the way, let’s discuss hearing loss.
So how is hearing loss caused by Covid?
So how is hearing loss caused by this? Specifically, how does it cause the type of hearing loss that is the result of damage to the auditory system which is usually irreversible, known as sensorineural hearing loss?
Scientists have a couple of hypotheses. 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 impacts your ears. After all, your nose, mouth, and ears are all interconnected. There are a couple of ways this might cause hearing loss:
- Fluid buildup: Inflammation can make drainage channels smaller, making it harder for fluid to get out or drain efficiently. It becomes more and more difficult to hear as this fluid continues to accumulate. In these instances, your hearing will usually go back to normal once your symptoms subside (this wouldn’t be an instance of sensorineural hearing loss).
- Cell damage: Keep in mind that viruses use your body’s own cells to replicate. This can lead to damage. Sometimes, damage to the vascular links between your ears and your brain takes place because of the way Covid impacts your vascular system. This situation is sensorineural hearing loss and will be basically irreversible.
Steroids are occasionally prescribed when hearing loss is caused by inflammation. Researchers are still looking for a way to prevent sensorineural hearing loss caused by cell damage. It’s unclear, based on this research, just how much protection vaccines give you against this sort of damage, but it seems obvious that it’s better than no protection.
Theory #2: Long Covid
The next hypothesis is more substantial when it comes to patients’ experience, but a bit less comprehended with regards to cause and effect. There’s something called Long Covid which you, by now, have probably heard about.
Patients will go through symptoms of Covid when they are experiencing Long Covid, long after they have recovered from the actual virus. Often, a debilitating bout of long Covid that lasts for months, or longer, after having Covid itself, is experienced. Scientists still aren’t sure just what causes Long Covid, but there’s no denying it’s a real thing.
In February of 2021, researchers published a systematic review that looked at data about long-term auditory problems resulting from Covid-19. The review found that:
- Vertigo was reported by7.2% of people
- 14.8% reported experiencing tinnitus
- After having Covid, hearing loss was reported by 7.6% of individuals.
Whether these auditory problems are caused by Long Covid or just associated with it isn’t really clear, but it goes without saying there’s some kind of relationship. A host of symptoms, including hearing problems, come from Long Covid.
Anecdote or evidence?
When someone talks about how they got Covid and haven’t been able to hear the same since, that’s an anecdote. It’s one individual story. When researchers are trying to develop a treatment plan, these individual stories, while they are part of everyday life for the individuals, aren’t enough for researchers to go on. That’s why research is so critical.
Scientists will be able to get a better comprehension about the hazards of Covid as they collect more data about how prevalent these complications are.
Obviously, there’s still more to understand. Research is continuing, which means the link between Covid-19 and hearing loss isn’t necessarily proven or unproven. Regardless of how you developed hearing loss, however, it’s still crucial that you get treatment as soon as possible. So call us if you think you might be experiencing hearing loss.