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tinnitus post COVID

Tinnitus Post COVID-19: New Long Haul Symptom

It’s heartbreaking that the coronavirus pandemic has claimed so many lives, and ruined so many others. One of the more recent tragedies our primary care doctors have noted is the suicide of the founder and CEO of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain, who committed suicide last month. According to a statement from his family, Kent Taylor had battled “unbearable” post-COVID-19-related symptoms. These included severe tinnitus, a loud ringing or buzzing sound in the ears.

What is tinnitus

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), tinnitus (pronounced “tin-NY-tus” or “TIN-u-tus”) is commonly described as a ringing in the ears. It can also sound like a roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing, in one or both ears.

The noise may come and go, and NIDCD, an arm of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), estimates that in the past year approximately 10 percent of the U.S. adult population has experienced tinnitus  lasting at least five minutes. This equates to nearly 25 million Americans. About 20 million experience tinnitus as a chronic condition and two million of those suffering from extreme and debilitating cases, according to the American Tinnitus Association.

Numerous causes, triggers

There are several possible causes of tinnitus. NIDCD explains that it’s not a specific disease. It is a symptom of other conditions, abnormalities, or injuries to the auditory system. The latter comprises the ear, the auditory nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain, and the parts of the brain that process sound.

Some of the health conditions that may trigger tinnitus include:

  • noise-induced hearing loss
  • ear and sinus infections
  • diseases of the heart or blood vessels
  • Meniere’s disease
  • various medications, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC)
  • brain tumors
  • hormonal changes in women
  • thyroid abnormalities

NIDCD says sometimes the cause can be as simple as a piece of earwax blocking the ear canal. It is also sometimes the first sign of hearing loss in older people. And some individuals develop tinnitus for no apparent reason.

COVID-19 link?

Now it appears we may have to add infection with coronavirus as another cause, although some experts disagree.

One study, published in the International Journal of Audiology, reviewed data from 24 different studies on the link between COVID-19 and hearing problems. The researchers estimated that nearly 15 percent of those infected experienced post-COVID-19 tinnitus.

Kevin Munro, Ph.D., a professor of audiology at the University of Manchester in the U.K., told Yahoo Life that his study shows “the long-term health consequences of COVID might be quite wide and extend well beyond a respiratory disease.”

Munro is correct because doctors around the world have known since last summer that COVID-19 patients often experience severe effects. This includes heart inflammation that can lead to cardiac arrest, acute kidney disease, liver problems. It also includes intestinal and liver damage, and neurological malfunction.

It’s not surprising that a significant number of those who have recovered are experiencing lingering symptoms of the illness. Known as long-haul COVID, the condition has exhibited some 100 symptoms that vary by person, including hearing issues.

Managing the torment

Kent Taylor appears to have been one of those “long-haulers,” and among the post-COVID symptoms he experienced was tinnitus.

“Kent battled and fought hard like the former track champion that he was,” his family’s statement read in part, “but the suffering that greatly intensified in recent days became unbearable.”

Those who have briefly experienced only mild episodes of tinnitus may not understand the agony of dealing with loud noise in the ear(s) that never stops.

But there are ways to manage the condition to make it less debilitating. From white noise machines to hearing aids, to cognitive behavioral therapy, there are numerous ways to attack the problem. What works for one person won’t necessarily help someone else. But the important thing is not to give up.

“This is one of those things that is tough to manage for some,” Jason Leyendecker, an audiologist and secretary of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, told The Washington Post. But, he added, “if they have hope, if they have an understanding of where it’s coming from and why it bothers them, it can drastically reduce their reaction to it and make it more manageable.”

If you develop tinnitus post-COVID-19 that bothers you, please let us know. Contact our doctors if your tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss, or dizziness, or causing you anxiety or depression.

Meanwhile, if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish.

  • Nancy Boebel

    Join the group post Covid tinnitus group on FB, to get a glimpse of the numbers this affects. It is a true symptom whether experts agree or not. I got it after Covid and it’s miserable. It was so loud in the beginning it sounded like a buzz saw that wouldn’t stop. It’s a shame it took a suicide that made headlines for people to start linking the 2.

    It’s awful, hearing is fine, but I truly believe it’s part of the inflammatory response in myself. Every opening felt like there was swelling and tightness around it. It’s just awful. Get away from the hearing aspect and look at the nervous system and inflammatory response.

    Most people in the group have “normal hearing” .

    April 25, 2021 20:04
  • Brigitte Cox

    I have had constant ear ringing and some memory loss… such as not remembering what I did yesterday in some cases…as well as what day, whether it be today or yesterday that I went to the bank. Is this a normal thing after just testing positive 16 days ago?

    April 30, 2021 04:04
  • Paula

    I got tinnitus last year March 2020 right when we went on lockdown. I am still experiencing the ringing. I got hearing aids but didn’t relieve me. I thought it could be a result of having covid but no one believed me early on when the pandemic hit.

    May 5, 2021 00:05
  • Maureen Mandirola

    My husband has experienced severe tennitus and a degree of hearing loss post-Covid. He has seen an ENT specialist, had an MRI, been through acupuncture, taken an herbal supplement- all to no avail. No one has been able to offer answers and nothing has provided relief.

    May 5, 2021 19:05
  • Ana

    I definitely have tinnitus after covid. i am now going in 2 months post covid, first month was horrible i couldnt get any sleep, i finally started getting some relieve and the 1st vaccine shot made it flare up again for another 2 weeks, im now in week 3 post vaccine and i am starting to get some relieve again. I am terrified of getting the second covid vaccine. I am very fearful that it will make it flare up again.

    May 6, 2021 04:05
  • Tammy

    I have developed post co-vid tinnitus and it’s extremely aggravating. It seems as if it’s always there now, just some days are worse than others.

    May 10, 2021 04:05
  • Hugo M Serrano

    Got diagnosed with Covid-19 May 7th and I fought with a fever, chills, and loss of smell everyday until May 11th. The chills and fever started to go away but as I started to fall asleep I heard a loud gun shot type of noise that apparently only I could hear. Then my ears started ringing and have not stopped yet! It is May 14th and my ear ring constantly all day long! I am getting to frustrated with all of these symptoms.

    May 14, 2021 05:05
  • Ana Lopez

    I have tinnitus post covid. Also had vertigo when the tinnitus gets so bad i cant hardly stand it. I came out covid positive on March 16th and till this day the tinnitus has been a nightmare.

    May 17, 2021 03:05
  • Zulfkar Rather


    I hope all is well.

    I was reading the article and it mentioned to comment if you experienced a worsening in your tinnitus to covid 19.

    I’ve recovered from covid 19 three weeks ago today. My smell and taste isn’t back fully yet but I feel like it’s improving. That’s seems to be one of the main effects remaining.

    However I do suffer from tinnitus, prior to having covid I hardly noticed it, only at night really and It wasn’t really bothersome. Now after catching covid it feels like it’s made it 10 times worse, it’s appears so much louder and it so much more bothersome.

    I feel like I notice it so much more in my day to day activities, especially in a quieter setting it feels so load.

    Do you think my tinnitus will eventually reduce in time? Maybe once my smell comes back?

    It’s got so bad I’ve had to book in for a hearing test to check if my hearings got worse.

    July 28, 2021 07:07
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