Updated: Nov 26, 2020
I have tinnitus. I developed it after my acute covid infection. I didn’t document it as a symptom until 5 months in. I am not sure if this is because it didn’t start until then or if I was more preoccupied with more life threatening things!
Tinnitus is the perception of a relentless noise in the ears. For many people, it's a ringing sound, but it also can sound like roaring, clicking, hissing, whooshing, or buzzing. Tinnitus itself is not a condition, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. There is no single cause, but it's often linked to exposure to loud noises, ear infections, and stress, or simply age-related hearing loss. It can be a debilitating and exhausting condition that can have a profound effect on peoples’ wellbeing.
A handful of studies have linked suffering from tinnitus to an increased risk of suicide, anxiety, and depression, although the nature of this link is not totally clear. For me my tinnitus is a high pitched whine a little bit like when an overhead strip light is on the blink. It started on the left and then after a month my right ear joined in. It doesn’t cause me anxiety as I am well aware what it is. That said when I wake at 4 with my new covid sleeping pattern it’s pretty hard to get back off to sleep. I hadn’t really noticed a hearing loss as well and thought I wasn’t hearing people because I was finding it difficult to say look at my phone and listen to a conversation at the same time - I put this down to my poor cognitive function or “brain fog” making multitasking impossible. Anyway I decided to get a hearing check. I was pretty surprised to see that I had hearing loss “mild” in my right ear and “moderate” in my left ear - the ear with the worst tinnitus.
Tinnitus and Covid-19: A new study in the Frontiers in Public Health conducted by ARU supports my experience. It says around 40 percent of people already with tinnitus say catching Covid-19 has made their hearing condition worse, while some patients have even reported the infection appeared to trigger the hearing problem for the first time.
It also found around a third of tinnitus sufferers believe their condition has become harder to manage due to the wider
stress of the pandemic, such as social isolation from lockdown measures, financial worries, and fear of falling sick. Although the study set out to look at people with pre-existing tinnitus, they also identified seven individuals who reported having Covid-19-initiated tinnitus These participants reported their tinnitus was triggered after developing Covid-19 symptoms indicates that it could be associated with “long Covid” in some cases. In one rare case a man experienced sudden permanent hearing loss over a month after contracting Covid-19.