Covid-19 may cause sudden and permanent hearing loss, experts have found, adding that such problems need early detection and urgent treatment.
The coronavirus has been found to affect the body in myriad ways, from a loss of taste and smell to organ damage.
Now doctors have reported fresh evidence that Covid could also affect hearing.
Writing in the journal BMJ Case Reports, experts at University College London report the case of a 45-year-old man with asthma who was admitted to intensive care with Covid, ventilated, and given drugs including the antiviral remdesivir and intravenous steroids.
A week after leaving intensive care he developed a ringing sound – tinnitus – and then hearing loss in his left ear.
The team say none of the medications the man was given would be expected to cause damage to his hearing, while he had no problems with his ear canals or ear drums. Further investigation showed no sign of autoimmune problems, while he did not have flu or HIV – conditions previously linked to hearing loss. What’s more, the man had never had hearing problems before.
Subsequent tests revealed the man had sensorineural hearing loss in his left ear – a situation where the inner ear or the nerve responsible for sound is inflamed or damaged. This was treated with steroids with partial success.