CORONAVIRUS survivors could face losing their hearing as well as their sense of taste and smell, doctors have warned.
Experts at the University of Manchester said people who have recovered from the virus have reported a deterioration in their hearing as well as conditions such as tinnitus.
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It comes after research from Italian patients revealed that one in ten would permanently lose their sense of taste or smell after recovering from Covid-19.
Researchers have also warned that people could experience a myriad of long term health issues as a result of the virus.
Scientists have warned that patients could suffer with side effects for months in a condition that has been dubbed as “long Covid”.
According to audiologists at the University of Manchester, those recovering could also be hit with hearing difficulties.
The study, supported by the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) surveyed 121 adults admitted to Wythenshawe Hospital.
They were questioned over the phone eight weeks after being discharged from hospital.
When asked if they had experienced any changes to their hearing 13.2 per cent said their hearing was worse.
This is while eight people reported a deterioration in their hearing and a further eight people reported tinnitus – where noises that are not caused by an outside source can be heard.
The results of the study have been published in a letter to the International Journal of Audiology.
Professor Kevin Munro, Professor of Audiology at The University of Manchester and NIHR Manchester BRC Hearing Health Theme Lead said: “We already know that viruses such as measles, mumps and meningitis can cause hearing loss and coronaviruses can damage the nerves that carry information to and from the brain.”
“It is possible, in theory, that Covid-19 could cause problems with parts of the auditory system including the middle ear or cochlea.
“For example, auditory neuropathy, a hearing disorder where the cochlea is functioning but transmission along the auditory nerve to the brain is impaired could be a feature.”
What is auditory neuropathy?
Auditory neuropathy is caused by a disruption of nerve impulses travelling from the inner ear to the brain.
The condition will usually have an impact on how well a person can hear but in some cases if may have an effect on how they understand the spoken word
This is an issue that usually persists in crowded areas.
Hearing loss is usually described as conductive or sensorineural.
If conductive sound cannot pass easily through the outer and middle ear into the inner ear.
If sensorineural then the cochlea in the inner ear or hearing nerve is not working as well as it should be.
People who suffer with conditions such as auditory neuropathy will often have issues hearing when there is background noise.
This could be in the pub or in a supermarket – those affected find it difficult to hear the person addressing them if other sounds are present.
Guillain-Barre syndrome is also linked to auditory neuropathy which is also known to have an association with SARS CoV-2.
The researchers said that more work needs to be done to establish a correlation between the virus and patients who experience hearing issues.
Professor Munro added: “While we are reasonably confident in the differentiation of pre-existing and recent changes in hearing and tinnitus, we urge caution.
“It is possible that factors other than Covid-19 may impact on pre-existing hearing loss and tinnitus.
“These might include stress and anxiety, including the use of face masks that make communication more difficult, medications used to treat Covid-19 that could damage the ear or other factors related to being critically ill.
“That is why we believe there is an urgent need for high-quality studies to investigate the acute and temporary effects of Covid-19 on hearing and the audiovestibular system.
“Timely evidence for decision-makers is urgently needed, so we need to be able to act quickly.”
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