The Health Subcommittee on the House Energy and Commerce Committee recently held a hearing titled “The Long Haul: Forging a Path through the Lingering Effects of COVID-19” to gather information on how best to address the lingering effects of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), particularly for those patients categorized as “long haulers” who continue to suffer from a myriad of ailments associated with a prior COVID-19 infection.
The American Academy of Audiology (Academy) along with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) collaborated on a statement highlighting the strong correlation between COVID-19 and hearing loss and vestibular problems. A recent study published in the International Journal of Audiology reviewed evidence from 24 different studies on the link between COVID-19 and hearing problems.
Based on this systematic review, scientists estimate that 7.6 percent of people infected with COVID-19 experience hearing loss, 14.8 percent suffer from tinnitus, and 7.2 percent report vertigo (Almufarrij and Munro, 2021). the study authors also identified “an urgent need” for more study of the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the auditory system.
Given the established link between COVID-19 and hearing loss, vestibular, and balance issues, the joint statement makes the case that it is now more important than ever to make sure that vulnerable seniors have access to the services of audiologists, the primary health-care professionals trained to diagnose and treat these conditions.
The Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act, H.R. 1587 is a cost-effective approach to address hearing-related conditions currently experienced by COVID-19 survivors and should be included in any legislative response to this problem.
Almufarrij I, Munro KJ. (2021) One year on: an updated systematic review of SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 and audio-vestibular symptoms. Int. J. Audiol. March 22. doi: 10.1080/14992027.2021.1896793.
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