Covid-19 can cause hearing impairment, tinnitus and dizziness

New symptoms of Covid-19 could soon be added to the long list of clinical signs of the disease. In addition to the most common manifestations of the infection, such as fever, dry cough and fatigue, and complications related to the loss of taste and smell, a number of studies have shown that some patients suffer from hearing disorders, tinnitus and vestibular problems, such as dizziness. Specifically, the researchers estimate that about 7.6% of people who contracted the infection suffer from hearing loss, 14.8% have had reports of tinnitus episodes and 7.2% of dizziness.

According to scholars, there are many factors that can play a role in the relationship between Covid-19 and hearing. Infection is known to cause widespread inflammation, which can also involve nerve tissues, exacerbating other problems. “Inflammation – explains Colleen Le Prell of the University of Texas at Dallas – can damage the auditory and vestibular pathways in the peripheral and central nervous system, just as it damages the smell and taste pathways and other neural systems“. Furthermore, adds Le Prell, anticipating part of the topics dealt with at the 180th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, to aggravate these conditions also the pandemic-related stress and anxiety.

In his presentation “Hearing disorders secondary to infection with SARS-CoV-2”, Le Prell highlights the results of some surveys that suggest the negative impact of these cognitive reactions in amplifying hearing disturbances caused by infection. “This is especially true for people who already suffered from tinnitus before the pandemic. Increased tinnitus discomfort has been associated with reports of pandemic-related loneliness, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, irritability, and financial worries. In other words – observes the scholar – those who experienced a general increase in stress also reported their own tinnitus it was more troublesome than before the pandemic”.

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On the other hand, some experimental treatments adopted in the early stages of the health emergency (such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine) may also have side effects on hearing, especially in patients with kidney problems. “When the kidneys are not working properly – indicates the researcher -, the drug may not be metabolized and eliminated by the body as quickly, which can increase the physiological concentrations of the drug and the risk of side effects. Older age, by the way, is often accompanied reduced kidney function and coronavirus infection can cause kidney dysfunction, which increases the risk that a patient treated with experimental therapy is at risk for ototoxicity”.

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