Post Covid-19 Sensorineural Hearing Loss

New studies are showing that a lot of people are reporting hearing loss after COVID-19

You may develop hearing loss as you get older, especially if you frequently expose yourself to loud noise. Hearing loss might be in your future, for instance, if you work on a loud factory floor without ear protection. These are pretty common and well recognized causes of hearing loss. But there’s a new fighter in the ring, and you can probably guess who it is: Covid-19.

People across the world have been ravaged by all of the numerous symptoms and side-effects of Covid-19, and that may include issues with hearing.

Maybe? Probably? Alright, we’re still in the early stages of really understanding Covid-19. And something new about it is being discovered all of the time by scientists. There is some research which indicates that hearing loss may be a potential side effect of Covid-19, but more research still needs to be done to back this up. So let’s take a look at where things stand right now.

So can hearing loss be triggered by Covid-19?

So here’s the first thing to keep in mind: The Covid-19 vaccine has never been proven to cause hearing loss. That’s true for all of the presently approved and obtainable vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna to Novovax. That just isn’t how these vaccines work, they don’t impact your ears at all. It would be like blaming your diabetes on the salad you had for dinner.

This applies to the brand new mRNA vaccines and the more conventional ones. Which means that the benefits of these vaccines still vastly outweigh the risks for the majority of individuals. If you have questions about vaccines, be certain to speak with your doctor, and get information from a reputable source.

Okay… with that off the table, let’s talk about hearing loss.

So, how can Covid trigger hearing loss?

But, how can this cause hearing loss? Specifically, how does this cause sensorineural hearing loss, the type of hearing loss that results from damage to your auditory system and is usually permanent?

Scientists have a couple of theories. These theories, we should mention, aren’t always mutually exclusive. They can both be relevant!

Theory #1: inflammation

Covid-19 creates inflammation in your upper respiratory tract, and the theory is that this inflammation eventually impacts your ears. Your ears, nose, and mouth are all connected, after all. There are two ways this could cause hearing loss:

  • Fluid buildup: Fluid has a more difficult time draining because inflammation has made the drainage pathways more narrow. It becomes more and more difficult to hear as this fluid continues to accumulate. In these circumstances, your hearing will usually go back to normal after your symptoms subside (this wouldn’t be an example of sensorineural hearing loss).
  • Cell damage: Remember that viruses use your body’s own cells to replicate. The result is damage. And because Covid affects your vascular system, this can in some cases result in damage to the vascular connections between your brain and your ears. This would be considered sensorineural hearing loss, and would likely be effectively permanent.

When hearing loss is a result of a buildup due to inflammation, steroids can often be helpful. Scientists are still looking for a way to prevent sensorineural hearing loss caused by cell damage. How much protection from this kind of hearing loss the vaccines will provide is unknown, but it’s better than no protection.

Theory #2: Long Covid

The next theory is more substantial when it comes to patients’ experience, but a little less understood in terms of cause and effect. At this point, you’ve probably heard of something called Long Covid.

Long Covid is a condition in which people experience symptoms from Covid well after the actual virus has left their system. Often, a debilitating bout of long Covid that lasts for months, or longer, after having Covid itself, is experienced. There’s no doubt, Long Covid is real, but scientists are still unsure why.

Data about long-term hearing complications was systematically reviewed by researchers and a report was published in February 2021. The review discovered that:

  • 14.8% reported developing tinnitus
  • 7.2% of people reported vertigo
  • After getting Covid, hearing loss was reported by 7.6% of people.

There’s definitely a link between Long Covid and hearing problems, but it’s unknown if there’s a direct cause and effect association. Long covid seems to initiate a broad constellation of symptoms, including those that affect your hearing.

Evidence or anecdote?

It’s anecdotal when somebody states that their hearing hasn’t been the same since they got Covid. It’s only one person’s narrative. When researchers are trying to come up with a treatment plan, these individual accounts, while they are part of day-to-day life for the individuals, aren’t enough for researchers to go on. So research is key here.

Researchers will be able to get a clearer understanding about the dangers of Covid as they accumulate more data about how prevalent these complications are.

We definitely need to learn more. The link between Covid and hearing loss isn’t either proven or unproven at this time and research is ongoing. It’s important to seek help as soon as possible regardless of how your hearing loss developed. So if you suspect your hearing isn’t what it once was, contact us to schedule an appointment.


The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.


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