If Your Ears Ring, Covid-19 Can Make It Worse
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Over 50 million Americans suffer from some form of tinnitus, or ringing in the ear. Of those, almost half describe the tinnitus as ‘burdensome,’ and over 2 million individuals in the U.S. alone find it debilitating. Tinnitus is the perception of sound when there is no objective extrinsic sound being made. It can be perceived as a whoosh, a heartbeat, a high pitch, or static. It can occur in one or both ears, and may be associated with other ear issues, such as hearing loss, ear pain, or dizziness. It can occur throughout the day, or (very commonly) only at night, while the tinnitus sufferer is trying to fall asleep.

While there is no cure, there are medical and surgical treatment options, the latter of which could compromise hearing. Most individuals have experienced brief episodes of tinnitus at some point, either after a flight, while recovering from a cold, or even just briefly while headed off to sleep. But long term tinnitus is extremely disruptive, and hardly pleasant-sounding.

Covid-19, as is the case from many viruses, can affect the peripheral nerves. One of the earliest findings in patients suffering from SARS-CoV-2 infections was anosmia, or loss of sense of smell. This phenomenon is due, in part to nasal swelling, but also due to the virus impacting and damaging the olfactory nerve, which is responsible for identifying different smells between the nose and the brain.