Despite recovering from the ravages of COVID-19, some people may find lingering effects related to the loss of one (or more) of their senses, according to an article on the National Geographic website.

As it pertains to hearing, some people have reported symptoms like hearing loss and tinnitus persisting months after they have been infected with COVID-19. A March literature review in the International Journal of Audiology cited in the article showed that of the 56 cases studied, researchers estimated that about 8% of people who had COVID symptoms also reported hearing loss, and 15% developed tinnitus.

According to Nat Geo, experts theorize that COVID may affect the eustachian tube, causing fluid buildup in the middle ear; the fluid can act as a “mechanical dampener” on the eardrum, causing sound to be muffled. Once the tube drains, hearing should normalize. In come cases, however, COVID’s ability to spark an inflammatory storm could damage small blood vessels and sensory neurons in the cochlea or inner ear, causing sudden hearing loss that is permanent.

In an article published in the September issue of Hearing Review, the authors reviewed recent literature involving COVID-19 and the audiovestibular system. In addition to the effects described above, the authors note that there may be evidence to suggest that pandemic-associated stress and anxiety can exacerbate existing tinnitus symptoms, though it is unclear whether COVID-19 itself causes tinnitus. Other research the authors reviewed has shown that symptoms like dizziness and rotary vertigo can occur during infection with COVID-19, and remain throughout recovery. Ototoxic medication like hydroxychloroquine, used in the early days of the pandemic as a way to treat COVID-19 though its efficacy has never been proven, may have also contributed to patients losing their hearing.

To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Source: National Geographic