Does COVID-19 Make Tinnitus Worse?

It’s fair to say that we’ve all been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another. The impact that COVID-19, the disease that is caused by the novel coronavirus, has had on us cannot be understated. It has forced us to adopt a new normal, including social distancing and face coverings.

The measures that we are taking to help protect ourselves and our loved ones are also teaching us things. Face coverings, for example, are designed to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. But they have an unintended consequence. Face masks can impede communication. They can make it difficult to hear conversation through the covering.

For people with a hearing loss, communication in the best of times can be difficult. Throw in a face covering, and it becomes a real challenge. For many, the communication challenges of face masks is causing people to acknowledge their potentially undiagnosed hearing loss.

With each passing day, we are learning more about COVID-19. Anecdotal reports point to people experiencing hearing loss with COVID-19. A new study has even found that COVID-19 is making tinnitus worse.

Does COVID-19 Make Tinnitus Worse?

A recent study led by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), with support from the British Tinnitus Association and the American Tinnitus Association, aimed to understand links between COVID-19 and tinnitus. The study included 3,103 people with tinnitus. Participants came from 48 countries, with the majority of participants coming from the U.S. and U.K.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, found that “40% of those displaying symptoms of COVID-19 simultaneously experience a worsening of their tinnitus.”

Although the study focused on people with pre-existing tinnitus, a small number of participants reported that developing COVID-19 symptoms triggered their tinnitus.

Participants also noted that measures that we’re taking to stop the spread of COVID-19 may have also worsened their tinnitus. The measures that we are taking to keep everyone safe have also led to increased levels of stress and concerns. There is increasing evidence that stress can affect tinnitus, and there’s no doubt that these are stressful times!

Lead author of the study, Dr Eldre Beukes, a Research Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge, England, and Lamar University in Texas, said: “The findings of this study highlight the complexities associated with experiencing tinnitus and how both internal factors, such as increased anxiety and feelings of loneliness, and external factors, such as changes to daily routines, can have a significant effect on the condition.

“Some of the changes brought about by COVID-19 appear to have had a negative impact on the lives of people with tinnitus and participants in this study reported that COVID-19 symptoms are worsening or, in some cases, even initiating tinnitus and hearing loss. This is something that needs to be closely examined by both clinical and support services.”

David Stockdale, Chief Executive of the British Tinnitus Association and a co-author of the study, said “Poor treatment of tinnitus in the early stages often leads to much worse cases and severe tinnitus can have a huge impact on mental health.”

If you’re struggling with tinnitus, please don’t struggle alone. The hearing healthcare professionals at Anderson Audiology would be happy to discuss your concerns. As tinnitus is often associated with an underlying hearing loss, treating the hearing loss can provide relief from your symptoms. Book in a hearing assessment with the hearing healthcare professionals at Anderson Audiology today. Call the team today on 702-997-2964. Alternatively, click here to request an appointment online.

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