COVID-19 Effects: First Documented Case Of Permanent Hearing Loss Due To COVID-19 In UK Published In British Medical Journal As More Cases Emerging
: The first documented case of sudden permanent hearing loss as a result of COVID-19 infection has been published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) although doctors warn that this is not the first isolated case as many more were reported earlier and more such cases are emerging. https://casereports.bmj.com/content/13/11/e238419
Thailand Medical News had already published warnings about possible hearing loss as a result of COVID-19 infections as early in June. https://www.thailandmedical.news/news/researchers-say-one-potential-long-term-health-implication-of-covid-19-could-be-hearing-loss
And also https://www.thailandmedical.news/news/covid-19-medical-news-university-of-manchester-reports-of-increased-occurrences-of-hearing-loss-by-recovered-covid-19-patients
Sudden permanent hearing loss seems to be linked to COVID-19 infection in some individuals, warn doctors from the University College London and the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital-London, reporting the first UK case in the journal BMJ Case Reports.
The researchers warn that awareness of this possible side effect is important, because a prompt course of steroid treatment can reverse this disabling condition if detected in the early stages.
Interestingly sudden hearing loss is frequently seen by ear, nose and throat specialists, with around 5-160 cases per 100,000 people reported every year. It's not clear what the causes are, but the condition can follow a viral infection, such as flu, herpes, or cytomegalovirus. However these are uncommonly seen as the cause of SSNHL or sudden onset sensorineural hearing loss.
Sudden onset sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) is defined as a hearing loss of at least 30 dB in at least three consecutive frequencies that has developed within 3 days. It is a relatively common pathology seen in otolaryngology, with a worldwide incidence of 5–160 cases per 100 000 people annually. In most cases the aetiology of the hearing loss is not confirmed, and it is attributed to different pathologies including viral related, immune mediated, cellular stress response and vascular occlusion.
Although there has been plenty of published research on sudden onset hearing loss, only a handful of other cases associated with COVID-19 have been reported, but none documented in the UK until now.
The physicians describe a case of a 45 year old man with asthma who was referred to the ear nose and throat department at their hospital after suddenly experiencing hearing loss in one ear while being treated for COVID-19 infection as an inpatient.
The patient had been admitted to hospital with COVID-19 symptoms which had been going on for 10 days. He was transferred to intensive care as he was struggling to breathe.
e was on the ventilator for 30 days, he developed other complications as a result. He was treated with remdesivir, intravenous steroids and a blood transfusion after which he started to get better.
However a week after the breathing tube was removed and he left intensive care; he noticed ringing (tinnitus) in his left ear followed by sudden hearing loss in that ear.
Prior to this he had not lost his hearing or had ear problems before and apart from asthma, he was otherwise fit and well.
Detailed examination of his ear canals revealed that he had no blockages or inflammation. But a hearing test showed that he had substantially lost his hearing in the left ear. He was treated with steroid tablets and injections after which his hearing partially recovered.
The patient tested negative for other potential causes, including rheumatoid arthritis, flu and HIV, prompting his doctors to conclude that his hearing loss was associated with COVID-19 infection.
Co-researcher Dr Foteini Stefania Koumpa from the University College London told Thailand Medical News, "Despite the considerable literature on COVID-19 and the various symptoms associated with the virus, there is a lack of discussion on the relationship between COVID-19 and hearing.”
Dr Koumpa further added, "Hearing loss and tinnitus are symptoms that have been seen in patients with both COVID-19 and influenza virus, but have not been highlighted."
In fact the first case of hearing loss mentioning COVID-19 alone was reported in April this year. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7132500/
Dr Koumpa explained that SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, is thought to lock on to a particular type of cell lining the lungs. And the virus has also recently been found in similar cells lining the middle ear.
The novel coronavirus also generates an inflammatory response and an increase in the chemicals that have been linked to hearing loss.
The study team commented, "This is the first reported case of sensorineural hearing loss following COVID-19 infection in the UK. Given the widespread presence of the virus in the population and the significant morbidity of hearing loss, it is important to investigate this further."
The study team added, "This is especially true given the need to promptly identify and treat the hearing loss and the current difficulty in accessing medical services. Doctors should ask patients in intensive care about hearing loss and refer them for urgent treatment.”
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