One of the most uncommon symptoms of COVID-19 is that it can temporarily deaden your senses of taste and smell. Indeed, loss of smell is often one of the initial signs of infection. But COVID-19 impacts more than just your sense of smell and taste. New studies are uncovering an unusual, but longer-term issue: irreversible sensorineural hearing loss.
How is Hearing Loss Caused by COVID-19?
Every day scientists are learning more about COVID-19. But there’s still a lot we don’t understand. The virus itself was only first discovered in late 2019. New pathogens often take years or decades for scientists to identify. One thing we do know about COVID is that it affects different people in many different ways (making it an especially tricky and challenging problem).
You could experience a wide variety of symptoms. And one of those symptoms is permanent hearing loss. Researchers still aren’t certain why that is. It could be something called “cellular stress” caused by the virus. According to this theory, COVID puts so much strain on your body that certain cells (like those responsible for hearing) begin to deteriorate. But your body’s own immune response may also be responsible for this type of hearing loss. On occasion, your immune system can go into high gear and ends up causing considerable damage to your body.
It’s also worth pointing out that occasionally this hearing loss can first appear when other COVID symptoms are on their way out. The actual timing isn’t completely known. Nor do we have a good understanding of what sort of underlying conditions would cause COVID-related hearing loss to be more or less likely to happen.
Can This Hearing Loss be Treated?
Irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is possible with COVID-19. Of course, there are a lot of variables, and there are some treatments, too. Actually, researchers have already recognized that steroid treatments appear to help preserve your hearing, especially if you undergo early treatment. It’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you experience sudden loss of hearing.
Getting a hearing exam after your COVID has passed is always a good idea.
There are a few qualifiers to all of this that should be pointed out. First of all, hearing loss does seem to be a fairly uncommon symptom of COVID. We don’t know yet how widespread this particular symptom is at this point. But as scientists learn more about COVID-19 the science will adjust.
Can COVID Induced Hearing Loss be Avoided?
If you have sudden changes in your hearing and you have COVID-19 get in touch with your doctor and schedule a hearing test with us. An early response may help lessen long-term hearing loss.
Try to stay healthy: The best way to prevent COVID-related hearing loss is to do whatever you can to steer clear of getting COVID in the first place. So when it comes to things such as social distancing, social gatherings, and wearing a mask, follow the guidelines.
This symptom does occur though it’s rare. And the more insight you have concerning COVID and hearing loss, the better. It’s a good decision to come in for an assessment if you think you’ve suffered hearing damage.