As has become clear, nothing is easy with COVID-19. Even with vaccines widely available, the current wave of infections will inevitably result in more cases of what is known as long-haul COVID.
What we’ve learned over the last year and a half is that a small minority of people who get infected do not simply “get over it”—no matter the treatment they receive. Instead of their symptoms wrapping up after the acute phase of the disease has run its course—usually about two weeks—these unlucky folks, about 10 percent of those infected, have symptoms that linger.
For those who required hospitalization, a recent study published in The Lancet found that about half were still feeling the effects a year later. Fatigue, muscle weakness, and shortness of breath are the most common signs of long-haul COVID.
But hearing issues are also a problem for some. Issues have included bouts of tinnitus and vertigo, and for some actual hearing loss.
The theory is that such ear-related problems are rooted in the havoc that COVID can wreak on the body’s circulatory system. There is now a syndrome identified as coronavirus blood clots, which can be especially problematic in the kind of tiny blood vessels that are crucial to ear function.
This may be the root cause of why tinnitus—a persistent ringing in the ears that is not associated with actual sounds—has been reported to have gotten worse for nearly half of people who suffered from it before getting COVID.
At this point COVID long haulers are the focus of a tremendous amount of medical research and, hopefully, treatments will eventually be developed.