Covid, among the (rare) consequences also hearing loss

Covid, among the (rare) consequences also hearing loss

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Even sudden and permanent hearing loss could be linked, albeit rarely, to infection with the new coronavirus. This is indicated by the analysis of the clinical case published in the British Medical Journal Case Reports by Foteini Stefania Koumpa, of University College London and the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital. The cause of hearing loss is not always clear but it can be a consequence of a viral infection such as the flu or herpes or cytomegalovirus. Now the first cases have also been observed as a consequence of Covid-19

The story of the 45-year-old seriously ill

The case described is that of a 45-year-old from the United Kingdom who was hospitalized for Covid ten days after experiencing the first symptoms. Later, due to serious respiratory problems, he was transferred to intensive care where he was intubated for a month. His hospital stay was further complicated by bilateral pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, pulmonary hypertension and anemia. Treated with Remdesivir, intravenous steroids and blood transfusions the man was then discharged. A week later the patient began to experience symptoms of hearing loss. At the beginning buzzing and whistling (tinnitus) until you get to the complete loss of hearing in the left ear. He had no precedent of this kind. The only disease the man suffered from before admission was asthma. His ear canals were patent and non-inflamed and the eardrum membranes intact. The man was treated with steroid tablets and got slightly better.

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The cause

Having ruled out a number of possible causes, the doctors finally concluded that the origin of it all could only be the Covid-19 infection. Sars-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, is believed to attach to a particular type of cell lining the lungs. But the virus has also been found in similar cells lining the middle ear. Sars-CoV-2 also generates an inflammatory response and an increase in chemicals that have been linked to hearing loss.

The other researches

Despite the extensive literature on Covid-19 and the various symptoms associated with the coronavirus, there is almost nothing that associates hearing loss and tinnitus with Covid-19. The first case dates back to April 2020 and since then only four other articles on the subject have been published and two more cases have been described. Scientists from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine last July published a research describing having identified the coronavirus in the ears of two deceased Covid-19 patients. Another analysis of about twenty asymptomatic patients found that their hearing abilities deteriorated after recovery. Covid-associated hearing loss is certainly rare but the rapid diagnosis of the disorder with prompt treatment can limit the damage.


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