If you experience ringing or buzzing in one or both ears, you may have tinnitus. In my other article, I discuss the different causes and treatment for tinnitus. The purpose of this article is to investigate research that links COVID-19 to tinnitus.
What is Tinnitus?
Dr. Sarah Sydlowski at the Cleveland Clinic describes tinnitus as "the result of your inner ear (cochlea) being damaged in some way. When this happens, the cochlea doesn’t stop working. It still tries to function so you’re able to hear certain sounds. And when your inner ear isn’t working correctly, it starts producing sounds to replace what you’re supposed to hear naturally. It’s a phantom sound.”
While tinnitus symptoms vary from person to person, it is generally described as:
According to National Center for Health Statistics, tinnitus affects an around a third of the U.S. population. It is also estimated that around 80% of those people have some form of hearing loss.
Analyzing The Facts
In a systematic review of hearing-related symptoms post-coronavirus published by the International Journal of Audiology, nearly 15 percent of patients reported tinnitus, although the authors do mention this number may be overestimated. Although scientists are learning more about how the novel coronavirus affects the body, much remains to be discovered. According to Kevin Munro, Au.D., a professor of audiology at the UK's Manchester Center for Audiology and Deafness, coronavirus affects other organs and systems beyond the respiratory.
In December 2020, Munro conducted a study looking for audio-vestibular symptoms associated with the coronavirus. When this study was completed early during the pandemic, researchers were unable to find any symptoms related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). However, this time, Munro discovers that an estimated:
7.6% of people report hearing loss
14.8% report tinnitus
7.2% report vertigo
However, the study lacked control groups, leading to the possibility of error. Yet, a connection between tinnitus and COVID-19 is not implausible.
If COVID-19 does not directly cause tinnitus, it may cause it indirectly through lifestyle changes. During the pandemic, people experienced huge changes from their daily routines. Their social activity, sleep schedules, and diet may have dramatically worsened. These factors play a role in one’s auditory health as well as other physical fitness. To ensure your body remains strong and fit in all areas, be sure to get adequate sleep, exercise, nutrition, and hydration. Also, be sure to ease stress through social activity and daily sunshine.
Consider the Options
If you are noticing auditory problems after recovering from COVID-19, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced audiologist who can assess your hearing and provide advice. At Kalady Audiology, we can help guide you to the help you need.
Our contact information is:
968 Ribaut Rd, Ste 2
Beaufort, SC 29902
Almufarrij, Ibrahim and Kevin J. Munro. “One Year On: An Updated Systematic Review of SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 and Audio-vestibular Symptoms.” International Journal of Audiology. Published March 22, 2021. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14992027.2021.1896793?journalCode=iija20
Madeleine Burry. “COVID-19 and Tinnitus: What’s the Connection?” Healthyhearing.com. Published June 7, 2021. https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/53206-Covid-tinnitus-and-coronavirus