The coronavirus affects the body in multiple ways. While it was previously observed that it could cause loss of taste and smell or cause organ damage, a British study shows that it could also impact hearing.
The first recorded case in the UK
In a new study published in the journal BMJ Case Reports, researchers fromUniversity College London reported the case of a 45-year-old man with asthma who was admitted to intensive care after contracting Covid-19. Placed on a ventilator and treated with various medications, including remdesivir (an antiretroviral), and intravenous steroids, he developed a buzzing sound (tinnitus) a week after leaving the treatment unit, followed by loss of hearing in the left ear.
According to the team, none of the treatments given to the man, who had never reported hearing problems before and whose ducts or eardrums did not show significant damage, should be the cause of this loss. Further research has shown no signs of autoimmune problems (the flu or HIV previously linked to hearing loss).
It eventually turned out that the man suffered from sensorineural hearing loss in his left ear (a condition in which the inner ear or the nerve responsible for the sound is inflamed or damaged), partially treated via administration of steroids. According to the study authors, this is the first known incident of this type to be reported to the UK, while a small number of similar cases have been reported in other countries.
” It is possible that SARS-Cov-2 can enter cells in the inner ear and cause cell death, and / or the body may release inflammatory chemicals called cytokines which can be toxic to the inner ear. “, Estimated Dr Stefania Koumpa, co-author of the study. ” Steroids likely help by reducing inflammation and therefore cytokine production. “
Probably multiple causes
According to the researchers, hearing loss should be systematically evaluated in patients with Covid admitted to intensive care, and emergency treatment administered if proven. ” Even unilateral hearing loss has a big impact on a patient’s quality of life, if not treated promptly. “, They particularly underlined.
Kevin munro, professor of audiology at the University of Manchester who was not involved in this new research, explained that other viruses, in particular measles and mumps, could affect hearing, and that the work previously conducted by his team had shown that 16 of the 121 patients followed, who had been hospitalized after contracting the Covid, had reported hearing problems approximately two months after discharge.
The team of Munro is currently studying the prevalence and causes of these problems, which may be multiple. The researchers evoke the virus itself, the response of the immune system, or even stress.