Covid-19 sufferers unlikely to be affected by hearing loss, "most thorough" research suggests

The Covid-19 pandemic was shadowed from its outset by an infodemic that flooded society with scare stories and misleading data, in some cases related to hearing health.

Published on 26 May 2023

Covid-19 sufferers unlikely to be affected by hearing loss, “most thorough” research suggests

Quickly released studies attributed to the virus similar negative impacts on hearing health to those shown in solid studies to result from measles, mumps, and meningitis. But while these new Covid-19 studies attracted the attention of media hungry to grow the perils of Covid in any direction, they may have lacked scientific rigour.

Now, a study for which its authors claim a careful and comprehensive approach to clinical and diagnostic assessment has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Audiology. And it shows, after long-term analysis of two groups of hospitalised patients – one with and without Covid-19 – that there is “no evidence to support the hypothesis that COVID-19 is associated with deficits in auditory function on any auditory test measure.”

In a nutshell, there was no difference between the groups, except in the self-report measure of hearing decline. In other words, a small number of people with Covid-19 reported greater effort required to listen but no specific auditory abnormalities were noted, which the authors at the University of Manchester and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) called “an intriguing finding” that “may be related to wider post-viral effects such as fatigue and cognitive impairment.”

 

A “well designed and well executed study”

 

Kevin Munro, Professor of Audiology at The University of Manchester and Manchester BRC Hearing Health lead points out that the World Health Organisation itself refers to the avalanche of information produced during the Covid-19 pandemic as an infodemic. “There was an urgent need for this carefully conducted clinical and diagnostic study to investigate the long-term effects of Covid-19 on the auditory system. Many previous studies were published rapidly during the pandemic but lacked good scientific rigour,” said Prof. Munro.

Dr. Anisa Visram one of the two lead authors of the study.”Our study was well designed and executed, and we believe it is the most thorough assessment of hearing conducted in people with Covid-19.”

The findings were welcomed by Dr. Ralph Holmes, Director of Research and Insight at the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID). “It is reassuring to know that for the majority of people, hearing loss is not a major long-term consequence of Covid-19,” affirmed Dr. Holmes.

Source: NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre

P.W.

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