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In the crazy-upside-down-world we live in now there are so many unknowns. At this moment everyone is in survival mode trying to avoid the contracting Covid-19. But this wave will pass too and we will have a new set of unknowns, the aftermath of a pandemic. One of these unknowns is: “How does Covid-19 influence my hearing?”
Viral infections are known to influence hearing abilities and are very unpredictable. Will it cause hearing loss at all? If so, to which extent will it cause hearing loss? Will it influence both ears or just one, will it be permanent or temporary?
Research usually takes months to complete but since it is a new virus, the new research is now fast paced and being published daily. Viral infections typically cause permanent hearing losses, but differ between viruses. For example, each virus may influence other parts of the hearing system. HIV more often cause an infection in the middle ear but the medication used for HIV causes a permanent hearing loss. Therefore, it was uncertain what Covid-19 will do to our hearing sensitivity. A recent study done regarding the audiological profile of an asymptomatic Covid-19 positive case showed some interesting findings.
The participants were between the ages of 20 to 50 with normal hearing, with no symptoms that is associated with Covid-19. All patients had their hearing tested
on the day they received their Covid-19 positive test results. Since the virus is suspected to stay in your system for two weeks, the hearing test was repeated after two weeks. The results after two weeks indicated a high frequency hearing damage and damage to the outer hair cells in the inner ear.
The first research is showing that it might very well take the same toll on our hearing as with many other viruses. The research are new and there will still be numerous studies investigating the effect of Covid-19 on our hearing, for now we can only do our best to protect our ears and consult an audiologist if there are any changes in your hearing.
Author: Marike Haasbroek, Audiologist at YVDW Audiologists
Reference: Audiological profile of asymptomatic Covid-19 PCR-positive cases
Am J Otolaryngol. 2020 Apr 10 : 102483.
doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2020.102483 [Epub ahead of print]