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British man suffers from permanent hearing damage after contracting COVID-19

Published on 14/10/20 at 01:00pm

A 45-year-old man in the UK has been left with permanent hearing damage after being infected with the novel coronavirus, it has emerged.  

Medical researchers at University College London wrote up details of the case in the BMJ Case Reports. The patient had asthma and was taken to hospital with COVID-19 symptoms and transferred to an ICU after having problems breathing. He was put on a ventilator and treated with remdesivir and steroids.

A week after leaving intensive care, he developed tinnitus and then hearing loss in his left ear. None of the medications he was provided with have side-effects that cause hearing loss and he never had previous problems with his eardrums. He also did not have HIV or flu which are two illnesses known to cause hearing loss.

Medical tests conducted on the man found he had sensorineural loss in the left ear where the nerves of the inner ear become inflamed or damaged. This was treated with steroids to lessen the impact. 

The team involved in the study said that COVID-19 patients who experienced severe symptoms should be asked about hearing loss.

Dr Stefania Koumpa, a co-author of the study, remarked: “It is possible that the Sars-Cov-2 virus enters inner ear cells and brings about cell death, and/or causes the body to release inflammatory chemicals called cytokines that can be toxic to the inner ear. Steroids likely help by reducing inflammation and therefore production of cytokines.”

Conor Kavanagh

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