You may develop hearing loss as you get older, especially if you regularly expose yourself to loud noise. Hearing loss may be in your future, for instance, if you work on a noisy factory floor without hearing protection. These hearing loss causes are fairly common. But there’s a new fighter in the ring, and you can probably guess who it is: Covid-19.
People all around the world have been ravaged by all of the numerous symptoms and side-effects of Covid-19, and that may include problems with hearing.
Maybe? Probably? Okay, Covid-19 is still an extremely novel virus. And something new about it is being discovered constantly by scientists. Some research does indicate that Covid-19 is connected to hearing loss, but that research is also rather early 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 cause hearing loss?
So here’s the first thing to bear in mind: There’s absolutely no proof that the Covid-19 vaccine triggers hearing loss. That’s true for all of the currently approved and available vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna to Novovax. That’s just not how these vaccines work, they don’t impact your ears at all. It would be like eating a nice healthy salad and then claiming that it was the cause of your diabetes.
This goes for the brand new mRNA vaccines and the more conventional ones. For most individuals, the risks are vastly exceeded by the benefits. If you have questions about vaccines, be certain to talk to your doctor, and get answers from a reputable source.
Let’s talk about hearing loss now that we’ve cleared that up.
So how is hearing loss triggered by Covid?
But, how can this cause hearing loss? Particularly, how does it trigger the kind of hearing loss that is the result of damage to the auditory system which is usually permanent, known as sensorineural hearing loss?
Well, there are a couple of theories. These theories, we should mention, aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. They can both be true!
Theory #1: inflammation
The first substantial theory among scientists is that Covid-19 causes significant inflammation in the upper respiratory tract, and that this inflammation can ultimately impact your ears. Your ears, nose, and mouth are all interconnected, after all. This may produce hearing loss in a couple of ways:
- Fluid buildup: Fluid has a more difficult time draining because inflammation has made the drainage pathways more narrow. As this fluid builds up, hearing becomes difficult. After the symptoms subside, your hearing will normally return to normal (this wouldn’t be an instance of sensorineural hearing loss).
- Cell damage: It’s important 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 links between your ears and your brain occurs because of the way Covid impacts your vascular system. This situation is sensorineural hearing loss and will be basically irreversible.
Steroids are sometimes prescribed when hearing loss is caused by inflammation. There’s still a continuing effort by scientists to find a way to prevent sensorineural hearing loss. How much protection from this sort of hearing loss the vaccines will supply is unclear, but it’s better than no protection.
Theory #2: Long Covid
The second hypothesis is a little murkier in terms of the cause and effect, but more corroborated in terms of patients’ experience. By now, you’ve probably heard of something called Long Covid.
Patients will go through symptoms of Covid when they are experiencing Long Covid, long after they have recovered from the actual virus. Sometimes, people will experience a mild bout of Covid followed by a debilitating Long Covid experience that drags on for months (or longer). Scientists still aren’t sure precisely what causes Long Covid, but there’s no denying it’s a real thing.
In February of 2021, scientists published a systematic review that examined data about long-term auditory difficulties due to Covid-19. The review found that:
- 14.8% reported experiencing tinnitus
- Vertigo was reported by7.2% of people
- 7.6% of people reported hearing loss after getting Covid.
There’s certainly a connection between Long Covid and hearing problems, but it’s unknown if there’s a direct cause and effect relationship. Long covid seems to initiate a broad constellation of symptoms, including those that impact your hearing.
Evidence or anecdote?
It’s anecdotal when someone states that their hearing hasn’t been the same since they got Covid. It’s one single narrative. And while it’s a fact of life for them, it’s not necessarily enough for scientists to go on when devising treatment guidance. That’s why research is so crucial.
Researchers will be able to get a clearer comprehension about the dangers of Covid as they collect more information about how widespread these difficulties are.
Of course, there’s still more to understand. Research is ongoing, which means the link between Covid-19 and hearing loss isn’t actually proven or unproven. It’s crucial to seek help as soon as you can regardless of how your hearing loss developed. So call us if you think you may be experiencing hearing loss.