In what has been touted as a rare case, a 45-year-old man in the UK who recovered from coronavirus, developed a sudden and permanent hearing loss. Experts have called it a serious condition that needs immediate and early treatment.
The "sensorineural hearing loss" following COVID-19 infection is the first such case according to a paper published in the BMJ journal. The study says that the early identification of the sudden hearing loss is significant as it can be reversed with prompt treatment.
The report said that the treatment could only partially improve the UK patient's impairment. It must be mentioned here that the "rapid and unexplained" deafness apparently only affects one ear.
The authors of the report have advised doctors to screen coronavirus patients for hearing loss to avoid "missing the treatment window" and to prevent hearing loss-associated morbidity. "Any patient reporting acute hearing loss should be referred to otolaryngology on an emergency basis," they said.
The patient had asthma. He developed hearing loss while in the hospital where he was admitted on the tenth day of his illness. He was transferred to the intensive care unit (ITU) due to issues with breathing. The patient spent 30 days in the hospital. The report said that his condition got "complicated by bilateral pulmonary emboli, ventilator-associated pneumonia, pulmonary hypertension and anaemia".
The UK man was administered remdesivir, intravenous steroids and plasma exchange during his treatment. A week after he was transferred out of ITU, he developed left-sided tinnitus (ringing in ear) and sudden onset of hearing loss. Doctors could not find a cause of his hearing loss.
Doctors also said that such sudden hearing loss is not uncommon. "It is a relatively common pathology seen in otolaryngology, with a worldwide incidence of 5-160 cases per 100,000 people annually," the report said.