Coronavirus could cause hearing loss and other auditory problems, new research suggests.
Scientists have reported a strong association between the virus and subsequent trouble with both hearing and balancing.
A review of 56 studies showed that the prevalence of hearing loss was 7.6 per cent, tinnitus 14.8 per cent and vertigo was 7.2 per cent.
Although a causal link has not yet been proved, it is already known that other serious viruses can damage people’s hearing. The latest findings come from a year-long UK study into the auditory effects of patients who were hospitalised with Covid-19.
Last October the BMJ documented the first reported case of sudden permanent hearing loss due to the new virus.
It warned doctors to be alert to the potential side-effect, as permanent damage can sometimes be prevented with a course of steroids.
Prof Kevin Munro, who led the study at the University of Manchester, said: “There is an urgent need for a carefully conducted clinical and diagnostic study to understand the long-term effects of Covid-19 on the auditory system. “It is also well-known that viruses such as measles, mumps and meningitis can cause hearing loss; little is understood about the auditory effects of the Sars-Cov-2 virus.”
Sudden hearing loss is frequently seen by ear, nose and throat specialists, with around five to 160 cases per 100,000 people reported every year.
It is not clear what the causes are, but the condition can follow a viral infection, such as flu, herpes, or cytomegalovirus.
The new research is published in the International Journal of Audiology.
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