PHOENIX – A team of researchers says they better understand why some people with COVID-19 also experience dizziness, ringing in the ears or something else hearing problems.
The researchers examined symptoms in patients with COVID-19. They also examined internal ear tissues and cells from humans and mice.
Over the past year, their experiments have shown how the virus can infect some cells in the inner ear.
“It has both the machinery to allow the virus to enter specific cells in the inner ear, not every cell, and when exposed to the virus, the virus easily infects certain cell types,” said Dr. Konstantina Stankovic at Stanford University School of Medicine. See led the research team together with Dr. Lee Gehrke at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The published their results October in the magazine Communication medicine.
Stankovic said they got the idea for the research after “noticing a lot of people with hearing loss and tinnitus and dizziness during the peak of the COVID pandemic.”
Erin Helm is a mother, a communications professional and author from Ahwatukee. She said his existing tinnitus got much worse after she received a COVID-19 vaccine shot, and again when she fell ill with the virus in January.
“I’m just glad to hear they’re researching it,” Helm said. She uses a sound machine app on her phone as therapy.
“I could not even hear the television over my sound machine, which I had to have up at full volume so as not to hear the ringing in my ears,” Helm said. She said it was difficult to find answers to what caused her condition and how to treat it. She said she went to doctors to get hearing tests and even an MRI.
Helm said the experience is “more than frustrating.”
Stankovic said her team plans to do further research into tinnitus and other hearing and inner ear problems related to COVID-19 disease and the COVID vaccines.
“Why do some people develop these symptoms, and most importantly, what can we do to prevent and treat them?” asked Stankovic.
In December, a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, started notes tinnitus as a reported side effect.
A researcher from the University of Arizona, Shaowen Bao, is currently working on a research study of individuals who reported tinnitus after receiving the vaccine. He hopes to publish his findings in a scientific journal later this year.