A new study suggested that hearing loss could be the latest impact of novel Coronavirus. Researchers found more than one in 10 people with Coronavirus infection, admitted to a hospital in Manchester, reported facing hearing issue within eight weeks after discharge.
The revelation about Coronavirus caused health issue came under spotlight after 121 patients, admitted to Wythenshawe Hospital, took part in a survey, and 16 out of them revealed that their hearing had worsened.
The study—which was conducted by the University of Manchester audiologists and supported by the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre-- revealed that while eight out of those 16 patients reported a deterioration in their hearing, another eight reported tinnitus-type noises which are not caused by an outside source.
The study results, published in a letter to the International Journal of Audiology, may be taken as another evidence that SARS-CoV-2 has long term impact on health.
Coronavirus Related Health Issues
A professor of audiology at the University of Manchester, Kevin Munro, who is also the Manchester Biomedical Research Center hearing health theme lead said that it is already a known fact that viruses such as measles, mumps, and meningitis can cause hearing loss. In terms of Coronaviruses, they have the ability to damage the nerves that carry information to and from the brain, said Munro.
As per the expert, it is possible that the SARS-CoV-2 could cause problems with parts of the auditory system including the cochlea or middle ear. "For example, auditory neuropathy, a hearing disorder where the cochlea is functioning but transmission along the auditory nerve to the brain is impaired, could be a feature," he added.
People with a hearing disorder, called auditory neuropathy, have difficulty in hearing if there is background noise, say inside a pub. Guillain-Barre syndrome—a condition that may be triggered by an acute bacterial or viral infection—has been linked to the auditory neuropathy, which is also known to have a connection with the Coronavirus caused disease, COVID-19.
Now scientists have urged for further investigation to understand the acute and temporary effects of the novel Coronavirus on hearing and audiovestibular system. As per the researchers, it is important to identify why there is a link between COVID-19 and hearing problems.
"While we are reasonably confident in the differentiation of pre-existing and recent changes in hearing and tinnitus, we urge caution," said Munro adding that "It is possible that factors other than COVID-19 may impact on pre-existing hearing loss and tinnitus."
As per the expert, these might include anxiety and stress as well as the use of face masks which has been causing difficulty in communication. He said medicines used to treat Coronavirus patients could also damage the ear.
Since there are more assumptions than facts and information, Munro said there is an "urgent need" for high-quality studies to investigate the effects of novel Coronavirus infection. Such studies are extremely required at this time to "act quickly" against the virus, which has already killed over 673,000 people around the world.