Aggravated tinnitus is thought to be a consequence of Covid
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Coronavirus can cause hearing and balance issues while aggravating tinnitus, a new study has found.
The known symptoms already range from a loss of taste and smell to breathing difficulties and extreme tiredness, with some lasting for months.
But now experts have found a link between Covid-19 and auditory issues, with the virus itself, pandemic-related stress and some treatments leading to problems.
Professor Colleen Le Prell, of the University of Texas in the United States, says symptoms are most commonly witnessed in patients who already have tinnitus, the sensation of hearing noises which don't exist.
The virus can cause inflammation which can damage hearing and balance "pathways" in the central nervous system in a similar way to how it impacts smell and taste.
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Professor Colleen Le Prell's study suggests Covid-19 can cause balance and hearing issues
(Image: Callier Center for Communication Disorders/Facebook)
Those effects can be magnified by things like lockdown-related stress and impact people who had tinnitus before the pandemic the most.
She said: "Increases in tinnitus bothersomeness were associated with reports of pandemic-related loneliness, sleep troubles, anxiety, depression, irritability, and financial worries.
"In other words, participants who experienced general increases in stress reported their tinnitus to be more bothersome than before the pandemic."
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Presenting the findings at the annual meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Prof Le Prell said that some early experimental treatments – such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine – can also have auditory side effects, particularly in patients with kidney problems.
She added: "When the kidneys are not functioning properly, the drug may not be metabolised and eliminated from the body as quickly, which can increase physiological drug concentrations and risk of side effects.
"Old age is often accompanied by decreased renal function, and Covid-19 can cause renal dysfunction."
Coronavirus is already known to cause symptoms such as loss of taste and headaches
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The NHS lists the main symptoms of coronavirus as a high temperature, a new and continuous dry cough and a change in taste and smell.
But breathing difficulties, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, nausea and vomiting, a sore throat, congestion or a runny nose and diarrhoea are also commonly experienced.
Long Covid –experiencing symptoms for more than a month and in some cases for several months – is thought to disproportionately impact young people.