Doctor's casebook with Dr Keith Souter - Tinnitus and Covid-19

We are learning more about the effects of Covid-19 all the time. A few weeks ago I talked about the problems with smell and taste that persist for some time after recovery for some people.

By Dr Keith Souter
Saturday, 6th February 2021, 11:45 am
Tinnitus may be associated with Covid-19
Tinnitus may be associated with Covid-19

We are learning more about the effects of Covid-19 all the time. A few weeks ago I talked about the problems with smell and taste that persist for some time after recovery for some people. The website Nosewell has useful information and advice that may help.

It is not surprising perhaps, that the sense of hearing can also be affected. Recent research has shown that tinnitus is worsened by Covid, as well as by the restrictions that we have to endure during the pandemic itself.

Tinnitus is the sensation of noises in the head or in the ears, which arise without an external cause. It is fairly common and one in three people will experience it at some stage in life.

Overall, it affects one in eight adults in the UK and it is often associated with reduced wellbeing and can cause or worsen depression and anxiety.

The research was published in the journal Frontiers of Public Health, and was led by Anglia Ruskin University. They looked at more than 3,000 people with tinnitus from 48 countries, but mainly from the UK and the USA. It was supported by the British Tinnitus Association and their American counterpart.

They found that 40 per cent of the participants experienced worsening of their tinnitus along with Covid symptoms.

A small proportion of participants also indicated that Covid seemed to cause their tinnitus. The authors think this may indicate that tinnitus could be a Long Covid symptom.

But it is not just that Covid infection might worsen the tinnitus, they found that many people with tinnitus experience a worsening of their condition because of the social distancing and other consequences of that during the pandemic.

In other words, it occurs as a result of the effects of the pandemic restrictions on their lifestyle routines.

There is so much juggling in lockdown, coping with working from home, videocalls, zoom meetings, home schooling and increased noise. Then people may consume more alcohol and more coffee, factors that can have an effect. There may be concern about catching Covid, and having to self-isolate.

If you are experiencing tinnitus you may find it useful to access the British Tinnitus Association website, where you can find much useful information about the condition and self help measures that you can try: www.tinnitus.org.uk/