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Coronavirus pandemic ‘will cause long term changes’ says expert

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Applying their scientific rigour to 24 studies, the researchers have discovered a new association between a Covid infection and three auditory symptoms – hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo. Professor of audiology, Kevin Munro, said: “There is an urgent need… to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the auditory system.” The hearing health lead at Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), Professor Munro continued.

“It is well-known that viruses such as measles, mumps and meningitis can cause hearing loss,” he said.

“Little is understood about the auditory effects of the Sars-CoV-2 [coronavirus] virus.”

Together with his colleagues, based on the data, ratio metformin they estimated that:

  • 7.6 percent of people infected with coronavirus experience hearing loss
  • 14.8 percent of people infected with coronavirus experience tinnitus
  • 7.2 percent of people infected with coronavirus experience vertigo

The Covid symptom data was obtained from self-reported questionnaires and/or medical records.

Hearing loss

Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent, said the NHS, which may develop gradually or happen suddenly.

It can difficult to judge if you’re losing your hearing, but common signs include:

  • Difficulty in hearing other people clearly, and misunderstanding what they say, especially in noisy places
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Listening to music or watching television loudly
  • Having to concentrate hard to hear what other people are saying, which can be tiring or stressful

These signs might differ if only one ear is affected by hearing loss, such as:

  • Your hearing is worse when sound comes from one side
  • All sounds seem generally quieter than usual
  • Finding it hard to tell where sound is coming from
  • Difficulty ignoring background noise or telling different sounds apart

Boots offer free hearing tests across the whole of the UK – the website even has an online test you can try.

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Tinnitus

“Tinnitus is the name for hearing noises that are not caused by sounds coming from the outside world,” explained the NHS.

It can sound like:

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Whooshing
  • Humming
  • Hissing
  • Throbbing
  • Music or singing

These sounds can be heard in either ear, or both, or in your head; it may come and go, or you might hear them all the time.

Deep breathing can help to minimise distress caused by tinnitus, as can listening to soft music or sounds in the background to help distract you.

Vertigo

The NHS added that vertigo “feels like you or everything around you is spinning”.

This sensation may last for a few seconds to hours, and severe vertigo can last for days or months.

To help ease feelings of vertigo, the NHS advise you to lie still in a quiet, dark room.

In order to prevent further attacks, it’s best to “move your head carefully and slowly during daily activities”.

Treatment for vertigo may include antibiotics, special exercises and antihistamines.

Professor Munro concluded: “Though this review provides further evidence for an association, the studies we looked at were of varying quality so more work needs to be done.”

This research was published in the International Journal of Audiology, and has led the way for further investigation.

The team are now conducting a more detailed clinical study to find out the number and severity of coronavirus-related hearing disorders in the UK.

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