Different people have been affected in various ways by COVID-19, which has ongoing effects despite its slowing spread. As the illness has lingered, doctors and researchers have identified additional threats that reach beyond the typical scope of symptoms and effects, meaning that Coronavirus poses more of a risk than initially indicated. Investigations into hearing loss issues reported by patients with the illness have led audiologists to discover that the virus could potentially be a direct contributor to the condition.
Indirect Links Between COVID and Hearing Loss
A rise in hearing loss has become evident during the pandemic. Individuals with hearing loss tend to struggle with conversations using telephones, video conferencing, and other electronic communication forms, the use of which has increased during quarantines and lockdowns. The reliance individuals with unidentified or untreated hearing loss place on non-verbal communication (facial expressions and lip-reading) is no longer present because of face masks, making it extremely difficult to understand – not only in terms of the masking of visual cues but also because of a reduction of sound clarity.
The Use of Ototoxic Medications to Treat COVID
Among the factors indirectly contributing to a rise in hearing loss in patients diagnosed with COVID might relate to the use of ototoxic medications, known to damage the auditory system, in treating symptoms. A list of ototoxic medicines compiled by the University of Michigan, includes:
- Aspirin in doses between 8 and 12 pills daily
- Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Antibiotics like aminoglycosides (i.e., Gentamicin, Streptomycin, and Neomycin)
- Loop diuretics like Furosemide (Lasix) and Bumetanide for treating high blood pressure and heart failure
- Medication used to treat cancer such as Cyclophosphamide, Cisplatin, and Bleomycin.
Though ototoxic medications are generally harmless when taken alone, they tend to create a toxic effect when two or more are taken simultaneously, often producing tinnitus, vertigo, and other symptoms commonly connected to hearing loss.
The Tinnitus and COVID-19 Connection
Whether caused by ototoxic medications or the Coronavirus, many patients diagnosed with COVID-19 complain about experiencing tinnitus symptoms. The continuous ringing, buzzing, or humming sound in their ears, which is similar to the phantom-limb symptoms experienced by amputees, is among the early hearing loss indicators. Patients note that tinnitus is not only present through the duration of their COVID illness, but continues after other symptoms have gone away. This has led audiologists and researchers to investigate a possible connection between Coronavirus and hearing loss.
Is There a Direct Connection Between COVID-19 and Hearing Loss?
In addition to the indirect contributions of SARS-COV-2 (Coronavirus or COVID-19), doctors have found the virus inside the middle ear of patients complaining of tinnitus and other hearing loss conditions. The development of hearing loss due to infections in the middle ear is common with some viruses, which led researchers to consider that COVID-19 may directly connect to hearing loss. However, audiologists and researchers are cautious about drawing a definitive conclusion because it is still early in the investigative process, and not enough evidence has been established.
Audicles Hearing Services Has Solutions for Your Hearing Loss
Ignoring or leaving hearing loss untreated is risky because the damage often continues to worsen. If you have become aware of a hearing loss, you should seek help.
The Audicles Hearing Services team has the expertise and the equipment to properly evaluate your hearing loss and provide the best solutions to get you back to enjoying your active and rewarding lifestyle. To start your journey toward better hearing, schedule a comprehensive hearing assessment by calling 210-820-0525 or click here to schedule a Virtual Audicles appointment.