Over the past 6 months several of my patients have asked me whether their hearing loss could have been brought on after having COVID-19.
Up until recently there had just been anecdotal evidence of a connection. However, experts have just reported fresh evidence that COVID-19 can cause sudden and permanent hearing loss, similar to other viruses, such as mumps, measles and meningitis.
Scientists estimated that 7.6% of people infected with COVID-19 experience hearing loss, while 14.8% suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ears). They also found the prevalence of vertigo was 7.2%.
The researchers, from the University of Manchester and Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, compiled data from 24 studies that identified an association between coronavirus and auditory and vestibular problems.
The vestibular system is located in the inner ear, and linked to the brain to process the information involved with controlling balance and eye movements.
It is worth mentioning that the findings from this study are preliminary, because most of the reports of hearing and balance problems rely on patient questionnaires and medical records rather than diagnostic tests. However, they are now conducting a more detailed clinical study which they hope will accurately estimate the number and severity of COVID-related hearing disorders in the UK.
What do I do if I suspect I have hearing loss?
Whether you feel its COVID related or not, hearing loss that is left untreated can seriously affect a person’s quality of life. The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem. The first thing you should do is contact your family doctor/GP or a private hearing health professional such as myself to have your ears examined and your hearing tested. This way you can establish where your hearing levels are at.
If the hearing loss has occurred suddenly, you should not hesitate in contacting your doctor immediately.
A hearing test can tell you if you have a hearing loss or not and a simple examination of your ears may also tell you what may have caused your hearing loss.
If your hearing is within the expected limits, then brilliant. If it is not so good and you might need some help then at least you can find out what options are available to you. You might just be surprised!
To book a hearing assessment at one of our centres across Suffolk and Norfolk, please click here.
Further details about the study can be found by clicking here.