Is there a correlation between COVID-19 side effects and hearing impairment?

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MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Some researchers are looking into the correlation between COVID-19 side effects and damage to people’s hearing. There’s still a lot to understand, but a systemic review suggests a strong association between the two.

The family of Texas Roadhouse CEO Kent Taylor said after being infected with COVID-19, he experienced a severe case of tinnitus – which can cause ringing in the ears, according to Mayo Clinic.  

Taylor’s suffering intensified and his family said it became unbearable for him, which led to him taking his own life.

Taylor is not the only one suffering with post-COVID-19 symptoms.

Intermountain Healthcare Dr. Dixie Harris said she’s working with COVID-19 long-haulers and she’s seeing a small number of patients with hearing impairment.

“I have had patients with a little bit of hearing loss, I’ve had patients with the tinnitus, and I’ve had patients feel like the room is spinning – especially when they move – and then dizziness,” Harris said.

Hearing loss could be caused by patients taking a treatment pill for the virus that was used early on in the pandemic.

“We also worry that it could’ve been in patients early on had received hydroxychloroquine – that’s a side effect of that medication,” Harris said.

Medline Plus reporting side effects of the pill related to the head can include headache, dizziness, difficulty hearing, ringing in ears, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and self-harm.

Published data in the International Journal of Audiology, seven to 15% of adults diagnosed with the virus are reporting audio-vestibular symptoms.

Researchers said it’s not entirely clear why people are experiencing such symptoms. However, it’s possible the virus attacks and damages the auditory system.

No matter the symptoms, Harris said she’s working to identify what may be causing these internal side effects.

“If somebody is having very severe tinnitus maybe we’re going to do extra scanning of the brain, maybe I’m going to send them to an audiologist or an ENT doctor or sometimes the neurologist,” Harris said.

Doctors and researchers – like Harris — continue to study the virus’ impact on human life.

If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 801-273-8255.

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