Can COVID-19 Cause Sudden Hearing Loss (SSHL)?

12/01/2020 | Industry News, Patient Resources

I’m sure you’re aware that COVID-19 can lead to a huge range of health issues and is mainly associated with respiratory problems.

But recent research has shown that it may also cause hearing damage.

In particular, specialists at University College London (UK) say the virus can lead to sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) – where a person quickly loses their hearing, often in just one ear.

What did their research show?

The team published a report in the British Medical Journal that highlighted the case of a 45-year-old man who had COVID-19 and was admitted to an ICU for treatment.

Over the course of thirty days, he received urgent medical attention and was eventually allowed to return home from the hospital.

But, just one week after being discharged, he noticed that he had tinnitus (a ringing sound) in his left ear, which was swiftly followed by a sudden loss in his hearing.

The man didn’t have a history of hearing loss, which led his physicians to suspect that COVID-19 was responsible.

While this research is limited, other examples have been observed in the US. For example, CNN reported the case of a woman who also experienced sudden hearing loss in July.

What is SSHL?

It’s common for someone to have a hearing loss for several years before becoming aware of it.

But the sudden sensorineural hearing loss, or SSHL for short, is different. With this, individuals will experience an instant drop in their capacity to understand sounds.

In most cases, you’ll notice this problem as soon as you wake up in the morning. But it can also occur during the course of your day, sometimes indicated by a sharp “popping” sound.

There are often some symptoms that precede SSHL. These include hearing muffled sounds or a ringing sensation in your ear.

How we’re committed to helping you!

As a healthcare provider, it has been critical for my team and me to stay on top of the updates that the CDC, the State of Alaska, and the City of Anchorage have set out.

Thankfully, we have been seeing patients, with our safety precautions in place, throughout the pandemic, delivering safe care during what has been a stressful time for everyone.

Throughout this period, I’ve witnessed firsthand how COVID-19 can leave people with sudden hearing loss. And crucially, this can become permanent if you don’t act quickly.

So if you are experiencing any changes to your hearing, especially SSHL, you must immediately call our office.

Once I have confirmed your diagnosis, I can then refer you to an ENT physician, who can normally see you on the same day.

Roughly half of those that get SSHL will recover part or all of their hearing. But often, this can only be achieved if you receive rapid expert assistance.

If you’re experiencing hearing loss of any kind – whether you believe it’s related to COVID-19 or not – please contact the office at (907) 522-4357. We’ll be delighted to help you!

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Dr. Emily E McMahan

Dr. McMahan attended the University of Cincinnati where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2009. She furthered her professional education by obtaining her Doctorate of Audiology from Salus University in Philadelphia in 2013. She completed her residency in Anchorage and has been applying her expertise to her patients in the Pacific Northwest for several years. Whether you need hearing testing, hearing aids, or assistance with managing tinnitus in your daily lives, Dr. McMahan is qualified to assist you!

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