Post Covid-19 Sensorineural Hearing Loss

New studies are showing that a lot of people are reporting hearing loss after COVID-19

You may develop hearing loss as you get older, especially if you regularly expose yourself to loud noise. Similarly, if you work on a busy factory floor and don’t wear ear protection, hearing loss might be in your future. These are fairly common and well known causes of hearing loss. But there’s a new kid on the block, and you can probably guess who it is: Covid-19.

That’s right, the same disease that’s been turning the world upside down for the past couple of years may also lead to hearing loss.

Maybe? Probably? Okay, Covid-19 is still an extremely new virus. And scientists are learning something new about it all the time. There is some research which indicates that hearing loss may be a potential side effect of Covid-19, but more research still needs to be done to back this up. So let’s have a look at where things stand currently.

Does the Covid vaccine cause hearing loss?

So here’s the first thing to keep in mind: The Covid-19 vaccine has never been confirmed to cause hearing loss. That’s true for all of the presently approved and obtainable vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna to Novovax. That’s just not how these vaccines work, they don’t impact your ears at all. It would be like eating a nice healthy salad and then declaring that it caused your diabetes.

This is true of both the conventional vaccines and the new mRNA vaccines. Which means that the benefits of these vaccines still greatly outweigh the risks for most individuals. If you have questions about vaccines, make sure to speak with your doctor, and get answers from a reputable source.

Let’s talk about hearing loss now that we’ve cleared that up.

So, how can Covid trigger hearing loss?

But, how does this trigger hearing loss? Specifically, how does this lead to sensorineural hearing loss, the kind of hearing loss that results from damage to your auditory system and is typically irreversible?

Well, there are a couple of hypotheses. These theories, we should point out, aren’t always mutually exclusive. They can both be true!

Theory #1: inflammation

Covid-19 creates inflammation in your upper respiratory tract, and the theory is that this inflammation eventually affects your ears. After all, your nose, mouth, and ears are all interconnected. There are a couple of ways this might cause hearing loss:

  • Fluid buildup: Fluid has a more difficult time draining because inflammation has made the drainage channels more narrow. It becomes harder and harder to hear as this fluid continues to build up. In these instances, your hearing will typically go back to normal once your symptoms subside (if this happens, you’re not experiencing sensorineural hearing loss).
  • Cell damage: Keep in mind that viruses utilize your body’s own cells to replicate. The consequence is damage. And because Covid impacts your vascular system, this can in some cases result in damage to the vascular links between your ears and your brain. This situation is sensorineural hearing loss and will be basically permanent.

Steroids are sometimes prescribed when hearing loss is caused by inflammation. There’s still an ongoing effort by scientists to discover a way to prevent sensorineural hearing loss. How much protection from this type of hearing loss the vaccines will provide is unclear, but it’s better than no protection.

Theory #2: Long Covid

The second hypothesis is a little murkier in terms of the cause and effect, but more substantiated in terms of patients’ experience. By now, you’ve probably heard about something called Long Covid.

Patients will go through symptoms of Covid when they are dealing with Long Covid, long after they have recovered from the actual virus. Sometimes, patients will experience a mild bout of Covid followed by a debilitating Long Covid experience that drags on for months (or longer). There’s no doubt, Long Covid is real, but scientists still aren’t sure why.

Data about long-term hearing complications was systematically reviewed by scientists and a report was published in February 2021. Here’s what the review discovered:

  • Tinnitus was experienced by 14.8%
  • 7.6% of individuals reported hearing loss after getting Covid.
  • Vertigo was reported by7.2% of people

There’s certainly a connection between Long Covid and hearing issues, but it’s not known if there’s a direct cause and effect relationship. A host of symptoms, including hearing problems, come from Long Covid.

Evidence or anecdote?

It’s anecdotal when someone says that their hearing hasn’t been the same since they got Covid. It’s one single story. And while it’s a fact of life for them, it’s not actually enough for researchers to go on when developing treatment guidance. So research is key here.

As scientists uncover more evidence that these hearing complications are fairly extensive, they’re able to create a clearer understanding of the dangers involving Covid-19.

We certainly have to understand more. Research is continuing, which means the link between Covid-19 and hearing loss isn’t actually proven or unproven. Regardless of how your hearing loss develops, however, it’s still crucial that you seek treatment as soon as possible. So if you suspect your hearing isn’t what it once was, call us to schedule an appointment.


The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.