A 45-year-old British man suffered permanent hearing loss in one ear following a severe COVID-19 attack, according to a case report.
The case marks the first in the UK in which hearing loss has occurred following COVID-19, wrote the authors of the case report published on BMJ.
The man, who suffered from asthma but no other pre-existing conditions, contracted the new virus and was initially able to manage his symptoms at home. But on the 10th day he had trouble breathing and was admitted to an intensive care unit at the hospital.
“He was intubated for 30 days and his hospitalization was further complicated by bilateral pulmonary emboli, ventilator-associated pneumonia, pulmonary hypertension and anemia,” the authors wrote.
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A week after receiving various treatments that included the investigational drug remdesivir, as well as intravenous steroids and blood plasma, the man got better. He was then moved out of the ICU, but soon developed another health problem: “sudden hearing loss” affecting his left ear, the authors wrote.
“She had no history of hearing loss or ear disease,” they noted.
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After a series of hearing tests, the doctors who treated the man determined that the inflammation was not the cause of his hearing loss. Rather, the report suggests, the new virus may have damaged the nerves in his ear, leading to permanent hearing loss.
“Despite the considerable literature on COVID-19 and the various symptoms associated with the virus, there is a lack of discussion about the relationship between COVID-19 and hearing. Hearing loss and tinnitus are symptoms that have been seen in patients with both COVID-19 and the flu virus but have not been highlighted, “they wrote.
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“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 further,” they concluded.
“This is especially true given the need to promptly identify and treat hearing loss and the current difficulty in accessing medical services. We suggest that patients be asked about hearing loss in ITU settings, when applicable, and any patient reporting acute hearing loss should be referred to ENT in an emergency. “