The most frequent symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough, loss of smell and taste. There are also muscle pains, tiredness, headaches, breathing difficulties and sore throats, up to, in some cases, pneumonia. Over time, the range of possible signs of the disease has expanded to other manifestations, including gastrointestinal problems, skin rashes and conjunctivitis.
The action of the Coronavirus on taste and smell is now widely known, while its effects on hearing are little discussed and studied. For some time, however, the number of people affected by earache in connection with a diagnosis of COVID-19 has been increasing.
Ear pain or pressure sensation are not included among the symptoms of COVID-19 by either the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Federal Office of Public Health. Not even doctors routinely check for the presence of ear disorders in the examination of subjects suspected of being infected with Coronavirus. In any case, earache and pressure in the ear are certainly plausible symptoms of Coronavirus disease, although not as common as fever, dry cough or loss of smell and taste.
In general, coronavirus disease has symptoms at least in part similar to those of the flu. The actual flu can lead to disorders such as ear pressure, for example caused by otitis media. However, a link with secondary inflammations caused by COVID-19 is equally conceivable, including inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, pharynx and Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the nasopharynx, with consequent ear problems.
Earache can have numerous causes. Inflammations, for example in the ear canal following an infection or otitis media, are often responsible for the disorders. Injuries, for example to the eardrum, as well as problems in the jaw or teeth, can also be at the origin of earache. The pain can be throbbing, sharp, or dull and is often accompanied by other ailments such as dizziness, hearing difficulties, or uncomfortable ear pressure.
As a rule, earache has no complications and is resolved without great difficulty with the use of analgesics. In principle, a visit to the doctor is recommended if the pain does not disappear over time as well as in the presence of other symptoms, including fever, dizziness, or leakage of fluid from the ear. In times of Coronavirus, however, it is advisable to pay more attention to the onset of ear disorders.
Tinnitus is a persistent sound in the ears, which often manifests itself as a very annoying noise, a ring, a hiss or a buzz, almost always perceived only by the person affected. Tinnitus can significantly compromise quality of life, especially if it is constant and becomes chronic.
So far, medical science has not established a clear connection between tinnitus and COVID-19, although the disorder has been reported by some people infected with the coronavirus. However, the paucity of available data does not allow for these claims to be substantiated yet. It is known that the coronavirus not only affects the lungs, but also the brain, the central nervous system and other organs, making its impact on the auditory system a possibility. However, tinnitus and other ear disorders can depend on many other causes, including infections, increased production of ear wax or a change in pressure in the ear. When tinnitus occurs without other symptoms typical of COVID-19, an otolaryngologist should first be consulted.
A correlation between sudden hearing loss and COVID-19 has not yet been demonstrated, but research is still in its infancy.
Slightly more frequent, although still very rare, is hearing loss as a complication of a COVID-19 infection. In these cases, hearing impairment does not appear as a symptom of the infection, but develops later as a consequence of Coronavirus disease. Some studies have recorded the isolated occurrence of tinnitus and sudden hearing loss following the Coronavirus. However, there is insufficient data to draw definitive conclusions on the association between COVID-19, sudden hearing loss and hearing loss. Broadly speaking, current studies show that sudden hearing loss or hearing loss are not among the frequent symptoms of a Coronavirus infection.
Just in case: in case of COVID-19 positivity and sudden hearing loss, it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately, to take the necessary measures as quickly as possible.