We all know the coronavirus can cause a loss of taste and smell, but is hearing loss also a symptom of COVID-19?
As the epidemic tore across the world, giving those infected a fever, headaches and trouble breathing, new symptoms started to appear, such as a loss of taste and smell. Now, a new, although rare symptom may be added to the list.
The alert was issued in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports, where the "first case" of sudden, complete hearing loss linked to COVID-19was reported. As a result, hearing loss has been added to the long list of symptoms associated with the virus.
Despite plenty of published research on sudden onset hearing loss, only a handful of other cases associated with COVID-19 have been reported, and none in the UK—until now.
British scientists elaborated on this case in the journal. According to them, screenings for hearing loss should be performed routinely in hospitals, including intensive care units. That would make it easier to take care of and cure with the help of steroids.
45-year-old man with COVID-19 develops sudden hearing loss
Scientists established a link between coronavirus and hearing loss after observing the case of a patient who suffers from asthma and caught the virus.
The 45-year-old man had been hospitalized after being infected with COVID-19. The patient was put on respiratory assistance and was cleared to leave the intensive care unit after a few days. However, a couple of days later, the man reported a high-pitched ringing in his left ear (a sign of tinnitus), followed by complete hearing loss.
An examination of the patient showed no evidence of what might have caused him to lose his hearing. His ear canals were not blocked or inflamed, and his eardrums were intact. So far, the man has only partially recovered after being treated with corticosteroids.
Can the virus be found in our ears?
Scientists have no doubt that SARS-CoV-2 can be found in the cells that line our ears, which (in rare cases) can cause hearing loss. In fact, the virus causes inflammation, which might explain this new symptom.
As a reminder, every year, 5 to 160 people lose their hearing for a variety reasons, such as a clogged blood vessel or a viral infection like the flu or herpes. The scientists' findings have yet to be confirmed on a larger scale.