Hearing loss has proven to be a common complication of COVID. In some cases, the hearing loss goes away on its own. But in many cases, post-COVID hearing loss is permanent.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to compensate for hearing loss following this all-too-common viral infection. The path to better hearing begins with a diagnostic exam by your professional audiologist at Harbor Audiology.
Symptoms of Post-COVID Hearing Loss
COVID caused two kinds of hearing problems.
One set of hearing issues involve inflammation of the middle ear. In these cases, COVID was a lot like any other middle ear infection. The middle ear became inflamed, and fluid filled the ear canal. If you had this kind of inflammation, everything might have sounded like you were underwater. When the inflammation cleared up, the hearing problem went away.
Another set of hearing issues involved nerve damage in the inner ear. This kind of auditory issue is known as sensorineural hearing loss. It doesn’t go away.
How can you know you have sensorineural hearing loss?
- Sensorineural hearing loss often affects one ear but not the other. Sounds may seem unusually loud in one ear. Or you may have trouble hearing in just one ear.
- Sensorineural hearing loss doesn’t always affect how you hear all frequencies. You may lose the ability to hear high frequencies but retain the ability to hear low tones. You may not be able to hear small children, women, or the high notes in a song. You may still be able to hear a dog barking, a man talking, or the sounds of a tuba or a drum.
- Sensorineural hearing loss can make understanding a conversation over background noise difficult. Your brain can “fill in the gaps” of what you don’t hear in human speech. All English speakers tend to skip over the enunciation of words like “a,” “to,” and “the.” If you have sensorineural hearing loss, your brain may not get enough inputs to automatically figure out what is ordinarily glided over in speech. Background noise makes understanding speech very difficult or impossible.
Sensorineural hearing loss makes distinguishing “s” sounds from “th” hard. Some words “thound” funny, but not in a humorous way.
A few people who have had COVID suffered immediate, profound hearing loss, but most cases of post-COVID hearing loss can be managed with hearing aids prescribed by an audiologist.
Can’t I Get a Cheap Hearing Aid Online?
The truth is you can get a cheap hearing aid, you simply take an online hearing test and buy a hearing aid over the counter. But the real truth is that this kind of hearing aid rarely gives you the hearing correction you need. The saying “You get what you pay for.” is very true in this instance.
You need a professional hearing exam to get the right hearing aid.
It is important to know why you are having trouble hearing. Sometimes, the real problem is something as simple as a buildup of earwax. Sometimes the problem is fluid in the ear canal. Or there could be damage to the inner row of hair cells lining the cochlea or to the nerves conducting signals from the hair cells to the brain.
Your audiologist can do tests to determine where the hearing loss is coming from. The tests will tell whether your hearing is better in the left ear, the right ear, or if the issue lies with the processing within the brain. This reveals where you are having trouble hearing.
Another part of a professional audiology exam is finding out what you have trouble hearing. A hearing aid isn’t just a device to make sounds louder. If you have sensorineural hearing loss after COVID, you need a hearing aid that makes some sounds louder without amplifying others.
You probably can guess another reason you need a professional hearing exam before you buy a hearing aid. The right hearing aid selection also depends on when you are having trouble hearing.
You may need a hearing aid connected by Bluetooth to your smartphone. You may need hearing correction that helps you follow a conversation in a crowded room. You may need sound “piped” into your ears to hear movies, TV, sermons, or public events.
And chances are that you need digital sound modification, not analog.
What Your Audiologist Can Do for You That an Online Hearing Test Can’t
Your Harbor audiologist has technology known as “Real Ear” equipment. This equipment ensures that the sound you get from your hearing aids is right for you.
Your Harbor audiologist will show you how to use and care for your hearing aids before you leave the office with them. Your audiologist will give you tips on using (or turning off) your hearing aids for maximum comfort in different situations.
Unlike buying your hearing aids over the counter without a professional audiology exam, getting your hearing aids from Harbor Audiology gives you opportunities to come back for adjustments. If your lifestyle changes or you need more hearing correction for the activities you enjoy, you can get adjustments in your hearing aids for the best possible hearing correction.
And your audiologist can help you get the hearing correction you need, even when it does not involve hearing aids. Your Harbor audiologist can help you with assistive hearing devices for public events or hearing conversations on the telephone better, even if hearing aids aren’t for you.
If You Have Had COVID-19, You Need a Checkup with Harbor Audiology
Over the past several years, many people have 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 issues before they become hearing loss. And no matter what your age, if you have had COVID-19, you need to be checked out by your audiologist sooner rather than later.
Your hearing specialist at Harbor Audiology can diagnose the causes of hearing loss, tinnitus, and dizziness. We can prescribe hearing aids if you need them. We can 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 VA Benefits. We make appointments to fit your schedule. Call or text us today at (253) 999-9649!
Reviewed by Dr. Porter on July 6, 2023
Categorised in: COVID 19