Is Hearing Loss a Side Effect of COVID-19?
Reviewed by Dr. Porter on April 17, 2023
Reports have come from all over the world that hearing loss is sometimes a side effect of getting infected with COVID-19. This viral infection can also cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and dizziness. But there are so many symptoms of hearing loss that follow COVID-19 infection that you need an audiologist to be sure you are getting a reliable diagnosis.
Hearing Loss Is a Real Complication of COVID-19, But It Is Not Common
The first thing to know about hearing loss following COVID-19 infection is that if you think you are losing your hearing, you quite possibly are. Don’t delay getting treatment, especially for a sudden loss. The window for successful treatment is relatively short, 24-48 hours from the onset of symptoms, so get into see your medical provider or Urgent Care right away!
But don’t worry that because you test positive for COVID-19 you will have hearing loss. When scientists at the Canadian Centre for Behavioral Neuroscience collected 520 reports from around the world, they found that only 3.1% of people infected with COVID-19 developed hearing loss and just 1.2% developed some degree of tinnitus. However, 7% developed chronic dizziness.
Other symptoms of COVID-19 are much more common. You are far more likely to experience a dry cough, fever, stuffiness, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, dizziness, muscle pain, joint pain, and/or diarrhea than hearing loss.
Hearing Loss After Getting Your COVID-19 Shot Requires Emergency Treatment
There have been very few cases of people losing their hearing after getting their COVID shot. Most of them have occurred in healthy people aged 18 to 43.
There are so few cases that researchers are not sure there is a connection between the shot and hearing loss. However, there have also been cases of sudden sensorineural deafness in people just after they received their flu shot or diphtheria vaccination.
It doesn’t make any difference whether the real cause of hearing loss is a vaccine or not. Whenever you suddenly lose your hearing, you must get treatment immediately!
Sometimes, sudden hearing loss is caused by inflammation of the nerves between the ears and the brain. Steroid treatment stops inflammation. It often prevents permanent nerve damage. Remember that hearing loss can become permanent if you don’t get treatment in just a few days. When the cause of sudden deafness is actually the vaccination, treatment usually restores hearing in just a few days.
Do You Need to See an Audiologist for Hearing Assessment and Diagnosis After COVID-19?
COVID-19 can result in a variety of hearing problems. Some of the many different symptoms the disease can cause include the following.
Sensation of Hearing Everything as If You Were Underwater
The hallmark of COVID-19 infection is inflammation. This can include Eustachian tube inflammation, forcing fluid to build up in the middle ear.
When you have this problem, you will have a feeling of fullness in the middle ear. It may go away spontaneously after a few weeks or require (usually simple and painless) medical intervention.
Dizziness, Loss of Balance, and Vertigo
Did you know that your ears help you maintain your sense of balance?
Your brain depends on signals from a specialized organ in your inner ear known as your vestibular system. The ability to send messages to your brain depends on the ability of neurons in your vestibular system to “fire.” That depends on having a high enough concentration of sodium around the neuron to “spark” an electrical discharge.
The COVID-19 virus interferes with the ability of tiny blood vessels in the inner ear to carry away the fluids that build up as the infection causes inflammation. Your inner ear is not connected to your lymphatic system, so it is dependent on these microscopic capillaries to remove fluid to keep sodium concentrations high enough for nerve function.
When your inner ear becomes inflamed, it cannot send messages to your brain to make the constant tiny movements that help you stay balanced.
By the time you reach the age of 40, even if you did not get COVID-19, there is about a 40 percent chance you will have balance problems. On average, you will suffer a fall, usually not very serious, about once every six years.
By the time you reach age 80, even if you did not catch COVID-19, your chance of losing your balance and suffering a fall any given year is closer to one in three. Older people suffer more severe injuries from falls and take longer to recover from them.
COVID-19 increases your risk of suffering a fall by about 25%. About 7% of people infected with COVID-19 start having problems with balance even if they are young and have never had balance issues before. It’s better to see your audiologist for a comprehensive evaluation of all your risk factors before you suffer a serious, life-changing, or even life-threatening injury.
Tinnitus After COVID-19
Researchers have yet to find a lot of evidence that COVID-19 causes tinnitus, more commonly known as ringing in the ears. More likely, it makes people more aware of the tinnitus they already have. Regardless of the problem’s origins, your audiologist can describe treatments that help you live better with the condition.
It’s Always a Good Idea to Get a Checkup with Your Harbor Audiologist After COVID-19
During the pandemic, many people put off their regular hearing checkups. If you are over 45, you need a complete exam by your audiologist every three years to catch hearing problems when they are still easily treated.
And if you have had COVID-19, as many people have, you need to be checked out by your audiologist sooner rather than later.
Your hearing specialist at Harbor Audiology can diagnose hearing loss, tinnitus, and dizziness. Your audiologist can prescribe hearing aids if needed and recommend ways to stay as active and involved with your family, friends, and job as possible.
Harbor Audiology works with every kind of insurance, including Medicaid, Medicare, and Veterans’ Benefits. And we make appointments to fit your schedule. Call or text us today at (253) 999-9649!
Categorised in: Hearing Loss