DOCS STARTING TO SEE CAUSES OF COVID-RELATED HEARING LOSS

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By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service CA

Photo:  One study from the United Kingdom found one in ten COVID-19 patients reports changes in hearing. Hearing aids can help people improve their listening comprehension. (UnitedHealthcare Hearing)

April 5, 2021 (Sacramento) - If you've noticed some hearing loss after you've had COVID-19, you're not alone.

Experts are starting to see cases pop up, and they advise people with symptoms to ask their doctor to arrange a hearing test right away, because treatments are more effective early on.

In addition, since ear follicles do not self-repair or grow back, most hearing loss is permanent.

 
Meghan Spriggs, associate clinical professor of audiology at the University of California - San Diego, said she has seen a few cases of COVID-related hearing loss.
 
"Anecdotally, I have seen some of that in our clinic," Spriggs confirmed. "I've seen people who have had hearing loss that recovered. And people who have had hearing loss that have not."
 
A small study done in the U.K. found that one in ten COVID patients reported a change in hearing.
 
Common signs of hearing loss include a need to turn the TV up louder than normal or trouble hearing conversations over the phone or in a crowded room.
 
If you want to help a loved one with hearing loss, Spriggs suggested wearing a mask that has a clear plastic section near the mouth, to make it possible for them to read your lips.
 
Because of the pandemic restrictions, many more people have started using earbuds all day long for Zoom calls.
 
Diane Nens, audiologist and senior clinical director of clinical engagement and strategic initiatives at UnitedHealthcare Hearing, said it's best to use earbuds in an otherwise quiet environment and limit them to 60 minutes at a time, at a maximum of 60% volume.
 
"The prolonged use of earbuds, especially at high volume, may contribute to noise-induced hearing loss," Nens advised. "And that's because earbuds may sit deeper in the ear canal. And many times people turn up the volume to overcome background noise."
 
Nens recommended people should be screened at least every decade through age 50 and then at three-year intervals thereafter. You can find a free hearing screening test on the UnitedHealthcare Hearing website.
 
Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on health issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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