If you’re subjected to a lot of loud sound and don’t wear hearing protection, you may experience hearing loss down the road. Hearing loss may be in your future, for instance, if you work on a noisy factory floor without ear protection. 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 across the world have been ravaged by all of the numerous symptoms and side-effects of Covid-19, and that might include issues with hearing.
Maybe? Probably? Okay, Covid-19 is still an extremely novel virus. And something new about it is being identified constantly by scientists. Some research does suggest that Covid-19 is linked to hearing loss, but that research is also rather preliminary and is still waiting for more data to back it up. So let’s take a look at where things stand at the moment.
Does the Covid vaccine trigger hearing loss?
So, let’s get this out of the way right away: There’s absolutely no proof that the Covid-19 vaccine causes hearing loss. All of the presently approved vaccines have this in common. Vaccines don’t impact your ears, they just don’t work like that. It would be like blaming your diabetes on the salad you had for lunch.
This applies to the brand new mRNA vaccines and the more established ones. Which means that the benefits of these vaccines still greatly surpass the risks for the majority of individuals. Speak to your doctor and find reputable information if you have any questions about vaccines.
Okay… with that off the table, let’s talk about hearing loss.
So, how does Covid trigger hearing loss?
But, how does this trigger hearing loss? Specifically, how does it cause the kind of hearing loss that is the result of damage to the auditory system which is normally permanent, known as sensorineural hearing loss?
Scientists have a couple of hypotheses. These theories, we should point out, aren’t always mutually exclusive. They could both be true!
Theory #1: inflammation
The first compelling theory among researchers is that Covid-19 causes considerable inflammation in the upper respiratory tract, and that this inflammation can ultimately affect your ears. After all, your nose, mouth, and ears are all interconnected. There are two ways this could lead to hearing loss:
- Fluid buildup: Fluid has a harder time draining because inflammation has made the drainage pathways more narrow. As this fluid accumulates, it becomes harder to hear. In these situations, your hearing will typically return to normal once your symptoms clear up (if this takes place, you’re not dealing with sensorineural hearing loss).
- Damaged cells: It’s essential to keep in mind that viruses replicate by taking over your body’s own cells. This can lead to damage. Sometimes, damage to the vascular connections between your brain and your ears takes place because of the way Covid impacts your vascular system. This would be considered sensorineural hearing loss, and would likely be effectively permanent.
Steroids are sometimes prescribed when hearing loss is caused by inflammation. Researchers are still searching for a way to prevent sensorineural hearing loss caused by cell damage. It’s unknown, based on this research, just how much protection vaccines give you against this sort of damage, but it’s safe to say it’s better than no protection.
Theory #2: Long Covid
The next theory is more substantial when it comes to patients’ experience, but a little less understood with regards to cause and effect. There’s something called Long Covid which you, by now, have most likely heard about.
People will go through symptoms of Covid when they are experiencing 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 still aren’t sure precisely what causes Long Covid, but there’s no doubt it’s a real thing.
Data about long-term hearing complications was systematically reviewed by researchers and a report was published in February 2021. The review found that:
- Vertigo was reported by7.2% of people
- 7.6% of individuals reported hearing impairment after getting Covid.
- 14.8% reported developing tinnitus
There’s definitely a connection between Long Covid and hearing problems, but it’s not known if there’s a direct cause and effect relationship. A variety of symptoms, including hearing problems, come from Long Covid.
Anecdote or evidence?
It’s anecdotal when someone says that their hearing has been off since they got Covid. It’s only one person’s narrative. And while it’s a fact of life for them, it isn’t necessarily enough for researchers to go on when devising treatment plans. That’s why research is so crucial.
Researchers will be able to get a clearer understanding about the hazards of Covid as they collect more information about how prevalent these difficulties are.
Obviously, there’s still more to understand. Research is continuing, which means the connection between Covid-19 and hearing loss isn’t necessarily proven or unproven. It’s crucial to seek help as soon as possible regardless of how your hearing loss developed. So if you suspect your hearing isn’t what it used to be, contact us to schedule an appointment.