Covid-19: tinnitus, hearing loss… Do pollution and vaccination cause hearing problems?

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The WHO says that in some patients there is a correlation between vaccination against Covid-19 and possible hearing problems. These symptoms are also described in many patients infected with the virus.

Since the start of the pandemic, some people have complained that they can no longer hear well. Covid-19 or vaccines: both seem to be suspected of causing hearing problems, ranging from recurrent tinnitus to partial hearing loss, to balance problems linked to an inner ear condition.

In a pharmaceutical information bulletin published this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that it wants to “identify hearing loss (including sudden cases) and tinnitus after vaccination against Covid-19 as a preliminary sign to be further evaluated.”

Institution indicates that cases of hearing loss have been identified in patients who have recently received a vaccine injection against Covid-19. More than 37,500 cases of hearing disorders have been identified after vaccination in 86 countries: “In France, a hundred cases have been detected that may be reversible,” estimates Professor Jean-Louis Montastruc, head of the center for pharmacovigilance and information on the drug at the University Hospital of Toulouse, questioned by the office.

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Hearing disorders have been observed in mostly elderly or frail people, at risk of deafness, almost 5 days after being vaccinated. “These disorders generally disappear after a few weeks, even a few months”, describes Professor Montastruc, who insists: “The imputability of the vaccine must, however, be verified on a case-by-case basis”.

A correlation with Covid-19?

On the Covid-19 side, symptoms linked to hearing problems have been correlated on many occasions with contamination by the virus. The recent spread of the BA.2 subvariant, which currently accounts for more than 96% of Covid-19 contaminations in France, is also not unrelated to the multiplication of possible auditory symptoms. This new strain of SARS-CoV-2 addresses the ENT field more than its predecessors : your throat, your nose, your mouth…

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But this link between hearing problems and Covid-19 contamination was established several months ago, although the proportion of the number of patients who had ear problems is unknown. The latest study on this topic dates from October 29, 2021, it was published on the scientific site communications medicine : The work of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) thus demonstrated that the virus can infect the cells of the inner ear. The main cells it targets are, among other things, involved in detecting head movements and maintaining balance.

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Tinnitus (ringing, ringing, or crackling in the ears) is also a symptom often mentioned by infected patients. For now, the World Health Organization has not yet described it as a known symptom of Covid-19 and for good reason: tinnitus has a complex association with anxiety and stress, two common phenomena in the general population during this time. pandemic. “It is a symptom that today affects between 10 and 15% of French people,” explains Professor Jean-Louis Montastruc. Therefore, the causal link with Covid-19 remains difficult to establish.

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