If you’re subjected to a lot of loud sound and don’t use ear protection, you might experience hearing loss down the road. Similarly, if you work on a noisy factory floor and don’t use hearing protection, hearing loss might be in your future. These hearing loss causes are pretty common. But there’s a new kid on the block, and you can most likely guess who it is: 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 problems 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. There is some research which suggests that hearing loss may be a potential side effect of Covid-19, but more research still needs to be done to back this up. So where is this research currently at.
Does the Covid vaccine produce hearing loss?
So here’s the first thing to remember: 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 impact your ears, they just don’t work that way. It would be like consuming a nice healthy salad and then claiming that it was the cause of your diabetes.
This is true of both the conventional vaccines and the new mRNA vaccines. Which means that the benefits of these vaccines still vastly surpass the risks for the majority of individuals. Speak with your doctor and seek reputable information if you have any questions about vaccines.
Okay… with that off the table, let’s discuss hearing loss.
So how is hearing loss caused by Covid?
But, how does this trigger hearing loss? Particularly, how does it cause the type of hearing loss that is the result of damage to the auditory system which is normally permanent, 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
The first substantial theory among scientists is that Covid-19 causes considerable inflammation in the upper respiratory tract, and that this inflammation can ultimately affect your ears. After all, your nose, mouth, and ears are all linked. There are two ways this might cause hearing loss:
- Fluid buildup: Inflammation can make drainage channels narrower, making it more difficult for fluid to get out or drain efficiently. As this fluid builds up, it becomes harder to hear. In these instances, your hearing will usually return to normal once your symptoms clear up (if this happens, you’re not dealing with sensorineural hearing loss).
- Damaged cells: It’s important to remember that viruses reproduce by taking over your body’s own cells. This can lead to damage. Sometimes, damage to the vascular links between your brain and your ears occurs 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 related to inflammation. There’s still a continuing effort by scientists to find a way to prevent sensorineural hearing loss. How much protection from this kind of hearing loss the vaccines will provide is unknown, but it’s better than no protection.
Theory #2: Long Covid
The next theory is more significant when it comes to patients’ experience, but a bit less comprehended with regards to cause and effect. At this point, you’ve probably heard about something called Long Covid.
Long Covid is a condition in which patients experience symptoms from Covid well after the actual virus has left their body. Sometimes, patients will experience a minor bout of Covid followed by a debilitating Long Covid experience that drags on for months (or longer). There’s no doubt, Long Covid is real, but scientists are still unsure why.
In February of 2021, scientists published a systematic review that examined data about long-term auditory difficulties caused by Covid-19. The review discovered that:
- Vertigo was reported by7.2% of people
- 7.6% of individuals reported hearing impairment after becoming ill with Covid.
- 14.8% reported experiencing tinnitus
There’s certainly a link between Long Covid and hearing issues, but it’s not known if there’s a direct cause and effect relationship. Long covid seems to trigger a broad constellation of symptoms, including those that affect your hearing.
Anecdote or evidence?
When somebody talks about how they got Covid and haven’t been able to hear the same since, that’s an anecdote. It’s only one person’s narrative. And while it’s a fact of life for them, it’s not really enough for scientists to go on when formulating treatment plans. So research is critical here.
As scientists obtain more evidence that these hearing difficulties are relatively widespread, they’re able to generate a clearer understanding of the risks involving Covid-19.
We undoubtedly have to understand more. The link between Covid and hearing loss isn’t either proven or unproven at this point and research is ongoing. No matter how your hearing loss develops, however, it’s still essential that you seek treatment as soon as you can. So if you think your hearing isn’t what it used to be, call us to make an appointment.