UAB officials say hearing loss possible after COVID-19 infection

Hearing loss emerging as long term symptom of COVID
Hearing loss emerging as long term symptom of COVID
Published: Jun. 27, 2021 at 10:57 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Officials at UAB are seeing hearing loss from long-hauler Covid patients.

“This is part of the neurological manifestations of Covid,” Director of UAB’S Post Covid Treatment program Dr. Turner Overton said. “Because of the closeness of the auditory canals and the relationship between the sinuses and the respiratory track, there is an ability for the virus to affect the nerves that are involved in hearing.”

Overton said they’ve seen around 1,700 people with long-term Covid symptoms overall.

“Slightly more women,” Overton said. “Probably about 65% women and 35% men.”

Overton said most symptoms go away after around 12 weeks.

“It’s probably more on the magnitude of 10 to 15 percent of people are having durable symptoms beyond 12 weeks,” he said.

Overton said hearing loss is one of the less common symptoms compared to loss of taste and smell and fatigue.

“Respiratory symptoms are the most common,” he said. “Followed by other neurologic symptoms like brain fog, headaches, and then cardiac symptoms.”

While every patient may not experience hearing loss, Dr. Overton said for the ones that do, it can be severe.

“It can be a pretty significant deficit because we are so dependent on speech and hearing,” Overton said. “So, definitely for those individuals that experience it, it can be pretty profound.”

He said if you are struggling to hear after a Covid infection, you need to get tested.

“If people are experiencing hearing loss after Covid or another viral infection, they should seek help and get referred for audiograms or hearing tests to really determine what the extent of their hearing loss is.”

Dr. Overton said many patients had mild Covid-19 symptoms while they had active virus, but the only way to ensure no long term side effects is the vaccine. He said the vaccine can also help improve long hauler symptoms, with data showing 60% of people saw relief after the shot.

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