HACKENSACK, NJ (Ivanhoe Newswire)— COVID-19 patients on the mend are struggling with everything from cardiovascular problems to clotting disorders, stroke, and fatigue. And now, in rare cases, medical experts say hearing loss is being added to the list. Now, introducing one man who woke up hard of hearing after 22 days on a ventilator.
“I had thought I was sleeping for two years,” recalled Michael Goldsmith.
Michael had clots in his leg, lost function in his shoulders and arms, and had what he describes as “static” in his ears— profound hearing loss.
“I can hear a little bit; it sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher is how I always describe it, you know? You can’t make out any words,” described Goldsmith.
Dr. Laurie Jacobs is co-director of the specialized COVID-19 recovery unit at Hackensack University Medical Center.
“I’ve seen very few patients, if any, complain of hearing loss, but we don’t know everything about this yet,” explained Laurie Jacobs, MD, who is also chair of the department of internal medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Since mid-summer, a handful of cases of hearing loss have been reported worldwide, according to the International Journal of Audiology. Doctors in the UK say it’s possible the virus enters inner ear cells and causes cell death. Dr. Jacobs says it’s possible COVID-related hearing loss is being overlooked or underreported.
“It may be that people don’t attribute it to COVID. Everything is on the table,” elaborated Dr. Jacobs.
Michael Goldsmith is working hard to get healthy. In fact, with his physical therapist, he ran his first 5K ever, Thanksgiving Day.
“You’re here now and that’s all you have to worry about and move on from there,” Goldsmith shared.
Michael wore a temporary device to help him hear, then had cochlear implant surgery in September and has since regained about 50 percent of his hearing. It may take up to a year after implant surgery for his hearing to be full strength.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer & Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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University College London/BMJ Case Reports
TOPIC: COVID-19 CAUSING HEARING LOSS?
REPORT: MB #4847
BACKGROUND: COVID-19 symptoms can sometimes persist for months and can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems. Older people and those with serious medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms. However, even young and healthy people can feel unwell for weeks to months after infection. The most common signs and symptoms that linger over time include fatigue; shortness of breath; cough; joint pain; and chest pain. Some other long-term signs and symptoms may include muscle pain or headache; fast or pounding heartbeat; loss of smell or taste; memory, concentration or sleep problems; rash or hair loss.
COVID AND SUDDEN HEARING LOSS: Hearing loss could be a rare side effect of the coronavirus infection. If recognized early, treatment could reverse part of the hearing loss and stop it from becoming worse, according to doctors from University College London and the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital. “Immediate steroids are the best treatment to improve prognosis,” the doctors reported. Sudden hearing loss can stem from viral infections, the flu and other causes. However, a few cases have been linked with COVID-19, and there may be more that have been unreported. When infecting the body, the coronavirus attacks certain types of cells in the lungs and blood. The virus has been found in similar cells in the middle ear. It can cause an overwhelming inflammatory response in the body and an increase in the chemicals that can lead to hearing loss.
STUDY SHOWS NO DAMAGE TO HEARING: A study out of Tel Aviv University (TAU), in collaboration with the Galilee Medical Center, did not link damage to the auditory system as a result of COVID-19 infection. The question remains as to whether it is a temporary symptom caused by fluids clogging the middle ear, as often happens with a common cold. The study included eight asymptomatic individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19 and eight healthy volunteers who served as a control group, none of whom reported any previous hearing loss. “Our study explored whether COVID-19 can cause permanent neural or sensory damage to the hearing system. We found no evidence for such damage,” says co-author Dr. Amiel Dror of the Galilee Medical Center and the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine at Bar-Ilan University. The researchers are currently conducting a much more comprehensive study with hundreds of patients, including persons who had been severely ill and even ventilated.
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