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COVID-19 And Tinnitus: What’s The Link?

COVID-19 and Tinnitus: What’s the Link?

The COVID pandemic has affected many people around the world and it is a very serious disease. Worldwide, there have been over 3 million deaths because of this virus. Initially, the symptoms mimic those of the common flu and other common ailments, but as time goes on, they become more severe. Some of those symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

There are also several severe symptoms that you should be aware of. If you are experiencing any of the following, please seek emergency care:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Inability to wake up or remain awake
  • New confusion

Tinnitus

One of those symptoms is tinnitus, or ringing/buzzing in the ears that may or may not be associated with ear pain. This condition is reported to affect 15-20% of the population at one point or another. Some people have a mild case of tinnitus, while others experience it more frequently. The ringing or buzzing is not an external sound, so other people cannot hear the sound.

Tinnitus is often caused by an underlying condition, such as hearing loss due to age, an injury to the ear, or even an issue with the circulatory system. An audiologist near you can help determine the underlying cause. It can also be caused by an infection, which is where the link to COVID-19 comes into play. Just as some viruses cause ear infections, it is also possible that certain types of bacteria may cause tinnitus. Some professionals theorize that the link between COVID-19 and tinnitus is due to an overreaction of the immune system when the body is fighting COVID that leads to an attack on the link between the ears and the brain. Another professional says that inflammation may be the linking factor for COVID and tinnitus.

Though many people have died from COVID-19, the research about the long haul symptoms and effects of this disease is still not clear. However, the research that is beginning to trickle in is noting several long haul symptoms of COVID-19. Those include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Memory loss or “brain fog”
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pains
  • Headaches
  • Joint and/or muscle pain
  • Cough
  • Tinnitus and/or ear pain

Tinnitus as a long haul symptom is said to affect about 15% of patients that had the COVID virus. There is currently not enough information to show a causal relationship between the two ailments, but as more research comes out, the list of potential long-haul symptoms of the COVID virus has extended past 100 different ones that vary on a patient to patient basis.

Treatment

So, how is tinnitus treated? If your doctor thinks that your tinnitus is caused by a virus, they may prescribe you an anti-inflammatory or steroid treatment. However, there are other non-medicinal treatments available for tinnitus. Some of these include white-nosie machines used to drown out the ringing or buzzing sounds that occur, hearing aids to help the patient hear better, and even cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT is used to extinguish the link between tinnitus and negative emotions. Whether tinnitus is a symptom of COVID-19 or a long-haul symptom after the virus has left the body, treatments for tinnitus can be very effective.

There is a lot still to be discovered regarding the COVID-19 virus. The research will continue to come in for the next few years, and more answers may be available then. However, we cannot negate the presence of a link between tinnitus and COVID-19, though we may not be able to pinpoint what that link is.

If you are experiencing symptoms of tinnitus, contact the health specialists at Camellia ENT at 1039 Camellia Blvd in Lafayette or an audiologist near you!

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