Research on COVID-19 has uncovered a laundry list of long-term conditions the novel coronavirus is associated with, including heart damage, lung damage and neurological problems. Recent research shows that COVID may also be linked to hearing loss. We review these studies below.

Hearing Loss as an Initial Symptom of COVID-19

A COVID-19 vaccine vial.

Two reports show that in rare cases, sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) may occur as an initial symptom of COVID-19.

  • An Iranian report from June 2020 found that several patients experienced sudden hearing loss in one ear as well as vertigo.
  • An Egyptian report also published in June 2020 indicated one man tested positive for the virus but had no symptoms other than SSNHL.

It’s important to note that SSNHL is an audiological emergency. If you experience this condition, seek prompt medical attention in order to increase your chance of regaining your hearing.

Hearing Loss as a Later Symptom of COVID-19

Research shows that, while still rare, it is slightly more common to develop hearing loss and other ear problems like dizziness and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) in the days or weeks after a COVID diagnosis.

A systemic review published in February 2021 found that:

  • 6% of people infected with COVID-19 reported hearing loss.
  • 8% reported tinnitus.
  • 2% reported vertigo.

Ear-Related Problems Among COVID-19 ‘Long-Haulers’

‘Long-haulers’ refers to people who have prolonged symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19.

A survey of 650 COVID-19 long-haulers found that:

  • One-third reported earaches
  • Two-thirds experienced dizziness and vertigo
  • One person reported hearing loss

There appears to be no predictable pattern as to who might experience auditory symptoms or when these symptoms may present, note researchers.

Ear Problems as a Treatment Side Effect

Unfortunately, some of the medications used to treat COVID-19 are associated with a relatively high risk of hearing loss, tinnitus, dizziness and vertigo, particularly the drugs quinine, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. In some cases, it’s possible that the side effects of these drugs may be misdiagnosed as being caused by the coronavirus.

Hearing Loss & Vaccines

Thanks to vaccines, we can attend concerts at the Depot without worrying about getting infected.

Fortunately, researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine examined the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System and found no link between SSNHL and vaccines; in fact, the rate of SSNHL appears to be lower among those who have been vaccinated.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Bountiful Hearing Center today.