Some viruses, such as measles, mumps and meningitis, can cause hearing difficulties, but what about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19?
In the first few months of the pandemic, a rapid systematic review of COVID-19 and hearing difficulties revealed a possible link between COVID-19 and audio-vestibular symptoms (hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo). However, both the quantity and quality of the early studies were low. Now that the pandemic has been with us for over a year, more studies have been published and researchers have been able to estimate how common these symptoms might be.
My colleagues and I have identified about 60 studies that report audio-vestibular problems in people with confirmed COVID-19. Our analysis of the pooled data, published in the International Journal of Audiology, reveals that 7%-15% of adults diagnosed with COVID-19 report audio-vestibular symptoms. The most common symptom is tinnitus (ringing in the ears) followed by hearing difficulties and vertigo.
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