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Hearing loss unlikely to be caused by Covid-19, say scientists

A new study, supported by RNID and led by The University of Manchester and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) scientists, shows that hearing loss is unlikely to be caused by Covid-19.

Following reports in the media of people developing hearing loss after being infected with Covid-19, researchers at the University of Manchester, led by Dr Anisa Visram and Dr Iain Jackson compared two groups of patients who had been hospitalised, one group with Covid-19 and the other without Covid-19.

After completing the most comprehensive assessment of possible links between covid-19 and hearing loss to date, they were able to show that there was almost no difference in hearing between the two groups.

The study was funded by gifts to The University of Manchester’s Covid-19 Research Appeal, and was part funded by RNID, The Dowager Countess Eleanor Peel Trust, and NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

Dr Anisa Visram said:

“We know that viruses such as measles, mumps and meningitis can damage the auditory system. It is also well known that Covid-19 can affect our sense of smell and taste so it was reasonable to assume it might also affect our sense of hearing. Our study was well designed and executed, and we believe it is the most thorough assessment of hearing conducted in people with Covid-19.”

Kevin Munro, Professor of Audiology at The University of Manchester and Manchester BRC Hearing Health lead said:

“There was an urgent need for this carefully conducted clinical and diagnostic study to investigate the long-term effects of Covid-19 on the auditory system. Many previous studies were published rapidly during the pandemic but lacked good scientific rigour.”

Our involvement in the study

Dr Ralph Holme, Director of Research and Insight at RNID, says:

“We were pleased to support this study because we know hearing loss can have a significant impact on people’s lives. The study provides important public health information and it is reassuring to know that for the majority of people, hearing loss is not a major long-term consequence of Covid-19.”

A small number of people with Covid-19 reported greater effort required to listen but no specific auditory abnormalities were noted.

The findings of the research are published in the International Journal of Audiology. Find out more here. Read the full article on the Taylor & Francis website.

We need your support

Hearing loss research is hugely underfunded. Only 83p is spent on research for each person with hearing loss, compared to £16 spent on research per person living with sight loss. Help us give hope for a better future today. Call our contact centre to donate to RNID today.

Find out more about the research we’re funding

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