One of the most uncommon symptoms of COVID-19 is that it can temporarily dampen your senses of smell and taste. We recognize that one of the first symptoms is loss of the sense of smell. But your sense of smell and taste aren’t the only sense affected by COVID-19. New studies are uncovering an unusual, but longer-term issue: permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
How Can COVID-19 Cause Hearing Loss?
Every day scientists are discovering more with regards to COVID-19. But there’s still a lot we don’t know. 2019 is when the virus was first observed. Usually, scientists work for years, if not decades, to completely describe a new pathogen. One thing we do know about COVID is that it impacts different people in many different ways (making it a particularly difficult and challenging nemesis).
There are a multitude of symptoms you can suffer from. And permanent hearing loss is sometimes one of them. Scientists still aren’t sure why that is. It might be something called “cellular stress” caused by the virus. Some cells (such as the cells in your ear) will begin to breakdown, according to this hypothesis, because the virus places so much stress on the body. But your body’s own immune response could also be responsible for this kind of hearing loss. Occasionally, your immune system can go into overdrive and ends up causing significant damage to your body.
It’s also worth pointing out that occasionally this hearing loss can first present when other COVID symptoms are on their way out. Again, we’re not quite sure why this happens. We are also clueless why it’s more or less likely to happen.
Is There Any Treatment For This Type of Hearing Loss?
Irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is possible as a result of COVID-19. Naturally, there are many variables, and there are some treatments, too. It’s already been observed that early steroid treatments seem to help protect your hearing from additional damage. 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.
But it’s worth pointing out that there are a few qualifiers to all of this. First and foremost, hearing loss does appear to be a fairly uncommon symptom of COVID. We don’t know yet how widespread this particular symptom is at this point. But it’s likely that the science on COVID will keep updating and changing as scientists learn more.
Can You Avoid COVID-Induced Hearing Loss?
Right now, if you’re already suffering with COVID, you should let us or your doctor know right away if you have any sudden change to your hearing. An early response could help lessen lasting hearing loss.
Try to remain healthy: The best way to protect against COVID-related hearing loss is to do whatever you can to avoid getting COVID in the first place. So when it comes to things like social distancing, social gatherings, and wearing a mask, stick to the guidelines.
While this specific symptom isn’t common, it still occurs. And you will be a lot better off with more knowledge about hearing loss and COVID. If you think you’ve already suffered hearing damage, it’s definitely a good idea to come in and get tested.