UK patient suffers permanent hearing loss after contracting coronavirus

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A man suffered sudden permanent hearing loss after coming down with coronavirus in a UK first.

The 45-year-old has asthma but was otherwise fit, healthy and did not have any ear problems before contracting Covid-19.

Doctors are now pleading with others to seek urgent medical treatment if Covid-19 patients suffer hearing damage as a prompt course of steroids could help to reverse the disabling condition.

The man with asthma was referred to the ear nose and throat department at their hospital after suddenly experiencing hearing loss in one ear wihle being treated for Covid-19 infection as an inpatient.

Details of the case, published in BMJ Case Reports, reveal that the patient had been admitted to hospital with Covid-19 symptoms which had been ongoing for 10 days.

He was transferred to intensive car as he was struggling to breathe.

The 45-year-old was put on a ventilator for 30 days and developed other complications, and was given a blood transfusion.

A week after the breathing tube was removed and he left intensive care, he noticed tinnitus in his left ear followed by sudden hearing loss.

Examination of his ear revealed he had no blockages or inflammation, and was treated with steroid tablets and injections after which his hearing has now partially recovered.

Dr Foteini-Stefania Koumpa, from University College London and Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, said it was concluded the man's hearing loss was associated with Covid-19.

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She said: "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.

"Hearing loss and tinnitus are symptoms that have been seen in patients with both Covid-19 and influenza virus, but have not been highlighted."

Sudden hearing loss happens to around five to 160 per 100,000 people every year, and the condition can follow a viral infection like flu.

The first case of hearing loss mentioning Covid-19 alone around the world was reported in April this year.

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 virus generates an inflammatory response and an increase in the chemicals that have been linked to hearing loss.

Dr Koumpa added: "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."

"This is especially true given the need to promptly identify and treat the hearing loss and the current difficulty in accessing medical services."

  • Coronavirus

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