There has been quite a lot of “buzz” around the onset of tinnitus after having Covid-19. Clinically, there have been numerous reports of hearing related issues after having experienced Covid, particularly, the onset of tinnitus. But what does the research have to say about this? In short, there has not been enough research conducted to determine if the virus was the cause of tinnitus, hearing loss, or vertigo. However, that does not mean that it is not prevalent. More recently, a group of researchers put together a statement based on a recent study. They stated that an estimated 7.6% of people infected with Covid-19 experienced hearing loss, 14.8% suffered from tinnitus and 7.2% reported vertigo. In addition, the study showed that the British Tinnitus Association reported a 256% increase in the number of webchats and helpline calls increased by 16% compared to 2019 numbers.*
Tinnitus is most commonly known as “ringing in the ear,” but it can be any sound (such as buzzing, roaring, whooshing) that you perceive without the presence of an actual sound being produced. More than 45 million Americans struggle with tinnitus daily. The sound may be constant, intermittent, in one ear or both ears. Tinnitus is likely to fluctuate based on your stress level, overall health, and sleep habits. There are ways to manage your tinnitus and if you notice that you’re having trouble with hearing, balance, or tinnitus, it is best not to ignore these symptoms, especially if there is a sudden change in symptoms. Sudden hearing loss, particularly, is time sensitive for receiving treatment. Most often, an inner ear hearing loss that is caused by circulatory problems, noise, aging, or certain medications is usually permanent. However, there is a small number of cases where we might be able to improve hearing sensitivity if caught in time.
While we cannot make tinnitus go away, we can provide effective coping mechanisms. It is best to have a comprehensive hearing evaluation done to establish the function of your hearing anatomy. From there, your audiologist can help educate you on possible etiologies of tinnitus and ways to help cope. Most often, knowledge is power, and the information alone can help reduce the subconscious paranoia that something is wrong with your anatomy. Tinnitus is not something that you just have to “live with.” There is help available to explore potential causes so that it can be managed.