An increasing number of people in the United Kingdom have developed tinnitus for the first time or have seen their symptoms worsen after having COVID-19, according to a media report.
Tinnitus affects nearly seven million people in the United Kingdom. The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) reported a 256 percent rise in the number of web chats from May to December 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, while calls to its helpline rose by 16 percent.
According to data collated by software company SEMrush, tinnitus-related searches on Google also have increased following the outbreak of COVID-19, with searches for “tinnitus causes” jumping 83 percent in February 2021 compared with February 2020, while searches for “tinnitus” grew by 50 percent over the same period.
Scientists are now considering whether the COVID-19 virus or the medication used for treating the infectious disease is causing the ear damage.
Eldre Beukes, a research fellow in audiology at Anglia Ruskin University, suggested that affected individuals either developed tinnitus from COVID-19 during the pandemic or report that existing tinnitus worsened. She recommends future research to examine the specific impacts of the virus on the auditory system.
Regardless of the cause, it is undeniable that there has been a significant increase in the prevalence of tinnitus since the pandemic began more than a year ago. Audiologists should be aware of this as most will see or have seen patients who are COVID-19 survivors.
National Herald India. (2021) UK sees a surge in ear damage cases among COVID patients. April 19 (accessed May 4, 2021).
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