COVID-19: Hearing Deterioration After Discharge From Hospital

Pavankumar Kamat

August 12, 2020

Audiologists at the University of Manchester are reporting a deterioration of hearing abilities in a significant number of patients with COVID-19 after being discharged from hospital. The findings were published in  The International Journal of Audiology.  

In a study supported by the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, 121 adults admitted to the Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester were surveyed by telephone.

When enquired about any changes in their hearing abilities after discharge, sixteen (13.2%) individuals reported that their hearing was worse than earlier. Eight of them reported deterioration in hearing and another eight reported tinnitus.

According to the authors, in theory, COVID-19 may result in problems with the auditory system including the middle ear or cochlea. However, they do not deny the possibility that factors other than COVID-19 may influence pre-existing hearing loss and tinnitus. "These might include stress and anxiety, including the use of face masks that make communication more difficult, medications used to treat COVID-19 that could damage the ear or other factors related to being critically ill," they say.

The current findings can be considered 'anecdotal' at the moment, but the authors urgently call for further high-quality research to determine the acute and temporary effects of COVID-19 on hearing and the audiovestibular system.

Munro KJ, Uus K, Almufarrij I, Chaudhuri N, Yioe V. Persistent self-reported changes in hearing and tinnitus in post-hospitalisation COVID-19 cases. Int J Audiol. 2020 Jul 31 [Epub ahead of print]:1-2. doi: 10.1080/14992027.2020.1798519. PMID: 32735466.  Full text.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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