If you’re exposed to a lot of loud sound and don’t wear hearing protection, you may experience hearing loss down the road. Likewise, if you work on a noisy factory floor and don’t wear ear protection, hearing loss might be in your future. These are fairly common and widely known causes of hearing loss. But there’s a new kid on the block, and you can most likely guess who it is: Covid-19.
People throughout the world have been ravaged by all of the many symptoms and side-effects of Covid-19, and that might include problems with hearing.
Maybe? Probably? Okay, Covid-19 is still a very new virus. And scientists are discovering something new about it all the time. There is some research which indicates that hearing loss could be a potential side effect of Covid-19, but more research still needs to be done to back this up. So let’s have a look at where things stand right now.
Does the Covid vaccine cause hearing loss?
So here’s the first thing to keep in mind: The Covid-19 vaccine has never been proven to cause hearing loss. All of the currently approved vaccines have this in common. That just isn’t how these vaccines work, they don’t affect your ears at all. It would be like consuming a nice healthy salad and then claiming that it caused your diabetes.
This is true of both the conventional vaccines and the new mRNA vaccines. For the majority of people, the risks are greatly outweighed by the advantages. Talk to your doctor and seek reputable information if you have any questions about vaccines.
Let’s talk about hearing loss now that we’ve gotten that out of the way.
So how is hearing loss triggered by Covid?
So how is hearing loss caused by this? Particularly, how does this lead to sensorineural hearing loss, the type of hearing loss that is the result of damage to your auditory system and is typically permanent?
Well, there are a couple of theories. These theories, we should mention, aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. They could both be true!
Theory #1: inflammation
The first compelling theory among scientists is that Covid-19 causes considerable inflammation in the upper respiratory tract, and that this inflammation can eventually impact your ears. After all, your nose, mouth, and ears are all connected. There are two ways this might trigger hearing loss:
- Fluid buildup: Fluid has a harder time draining because inflammation has made the drainage channels more narrow. It becomes more and more difficult to hear as this fluid continues to accumulate. After the symptoms subside, your hearing will typically go back to normal (this wouldn’t be an instance of sensorineural hearing loss).
- Cell damage: It’s essential to remember that viruses reproduce by taking over your body’s own cells. This can result in damage. Sometimes, damage to the vascular connections between your ears and your brain takes place because of the way Covid affects your vascular system. This would be considered sensorineural hearing loss, and would probably be effectively permanent.
Steroids are sometimes prescribed when hearing loss is caused by inflammation. There’s still an ongoing effort by scientists to discover a way to prevent sensorineural hearing loss. It’s unclear, based on this research, just how much protection vaccines give you against this kind of damage, but it’s safe to say it’s better than no protection.
Theory #2: Long Covid
The next hypothesis is more substantial in regards to patients’ experience, but a little less comprehended with regards to cause and effect. There’s something called Long Covid which you, by now, have probably heard about.
People will go through symptoms of Covid when they are dealing with Long Covid, long after they have recovered from the actual virus. Often, a debilitating bout of long Covid that drags out for months, or longer, after having Covid itself, is experienced. Scientists are still unsure exactly what causes Long Covid, but there’s no doubt it’s a real thing.
Data about long-term hearing problems was systematically reviewed by scientists and a report was published in February 2021. The review found that:
- 14.8% reported experiencing tinnitus
- After having Covid, hearing loss was reported by 7.6% of individuals.
- 7.2% of people reported vertigo
Whether these auditory complications are caused by Long Covid or just in relation to it isn’t very clear, but it’s safe to say there’s a relationship of some kind. Long covid seems to trigger a broad constellation of symptoms, including those that affect your hearing.
Evidence or anecdote?
It’s anecdotal when somebody says that their hearing hasn’t been the same since they got Covid. It’s one single narrative. When scientists are trying to develop a treatment strategy, these individual accounts, while they are part of day-to-day life for the individuals, aren’t enough for researchers to go on. That’s why research is so crucial.
Scientists will be able to get a clearer comprehension about the hazards of Covid as they collect more information about how prevalent these difficulties are.
Obviously, there’s still more to understand. The connection between Covid and hearing loss isn’t either proven or unproven at this time and research is continuing. No matter how your hearing loss develops, however, it’s still crucial that you seek treatment as soon as possible. So if you think your hearing isn’t what it used to be, call us to schedule an appointment.