COVID-19 does not cause hearing loss, study shows

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Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been reports on the possible hearing loss caused by the disease.

In a new study, researchers found no evidence of damage to the auditory system as a result of COVID-19 infection.

The research was conducted by a team from Tel Aviv University and elsewhere.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been clear that COVID-19 has some long-term effects, such as the loss of the sense of smell and taste.

The possibility of hearing loss, however, has been debated among medical practitioners, with some reporting this symptom in recovered patients.

The question is whether such hearing loss is caused by damage to the auditory system, or whether it is a temporary symptom caused by fluids clogging the middle ear, as often happens with a common cold.

The researchers began to investigate this question during the first wave of the pandemic when the numbers of patients in Israel were still relatively small.

Participants 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.

The team measured electrical data from the brainstem to test the entire route of soundwaves through the ear until electric waves are ultimately received in the brain.

They also examined the activity of the inner ear hair cells that intensify and tune the sound. We found no difference between the COVID-19-positive subjects and the control group.

The study provided for the first time quantitative measures for hearing quality following exposure to the virus.

The team found no evidence that COVID-19 can cause permanent neural or sensory damage to the hearing system.

The hearing impairment among some patients is mostly transient and secondary to fluid buildup in the middle ear, as for the common cold, and therefore likely passes once the acute disease is over.

The researchers are currently conducting a much more comprehensive study with hundreds of patients, including persons who had been severely ill and even ventilated.

One author of the study is Professor Karen Avraham.

The study is published in Otology & Neurotology.

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