At North Houston Hearing Solutions, we understand staying focused on the latest science related to hearing loss is an essential component of providing high-quality care. During the pandemic, we are regularly reviewing studies that cover possible links between COVID-19 and hearing loss.

The latest research suggests there’s a strong connection between hearing loss and COVID-19.  Here’s a brief overview of what’s known about the relationship between COVID-19 and hearing loss.

SARS-CoV-2 Has Been Found in the Middle Ear

In the scientific community, we already know several viruses can cause hearing loss. Currently, there’s not enough evidence to say definitively that COVID-19 is causing hearing loss. However, the latest research points to that possibility.

Physicians at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine recently identified the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the middle ear of COVID-19 patients.

Inflammation is a common symptom in body parts infected by a virus. When SARS-CoV-2 infects an ear, it wouldn’t be surprising if the result was inflammation that brings about problems such as hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and imbalance, according to C. Matthew Stewart, one of the study’s authors.

Hearing Loss Detected in Asymptomatic COVID-19 Patients

Another study compared the hearing of non-infected subjects to the hearing of COVID-19 patients aged 20 to 50 who did not have symptoms of the virus. Hearing evaluations detected hearing loss in all asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.

The study’s author believes COVID-19 damaged hair cells in the cochlea, which resulted in hearing loss. Although this study presents a strong case, more research is necessary before we can conclude COVID-19 has the impact the author suggests.

Ototoxic Medications Could Be a Factor

As medical professionals, we know certain medications are ototoxic. That means those drugs have the potential to damage the ear.

Ototoxic medications may cause ear problems like hearing loss, imbalance, or ringing in the ears. Doctors have used known ototoxic drugs like remdesivir, azithromycin, and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

The Pandemic Is Also Revealing Pre-Existing Hearing Loss 

Many hearing centers, including ours, have had patients come to us because the pandemic has made it difficult to live with pre-existing hearing loss.

These patients fall into two categories. Some knew they were having trouble with their hearing before the pandemic, but they had not sought treatment. Others were unaware of their hearing loss.

For both groups, the sound of people speaking through masks tends to be too muffled to understand. Masks also hide visual cues like facial expressions that “filled in” what they couldn’t hear.

It’s usually challenging for these patients to understand a speaker who is at least six feet away to maintain social distancing.

Houston Hearing Care Specialists

We’ve covered hearing loss that could be caused by COVID-19, ototoxic medications, and reasons that predate the pandemic. If you or a loved one suspects hearing loss due to any of those causes, our caring hearing professionals are available to help.

Contact us to schedule a hearing assessment with one of our doctors of audiology.

For a reminder of the protocols in place to keep you safe, follow this link.

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Dr. Lacey Brooks, CCC-A, FAAA - Doctor of Audiology

Dr. Lacey Brooks, CCC-A, FAAA - Doctor of Audiology

Dr. Lacey Brooks received a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry in 2003, and earned her doctorate of audiology in 2009. She completed her clinical internships and residency at various facilities within Houston Medical Center. Dr. Brooks is a professional member of the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), a member of the Texas Academy of Audiology (TAA), and is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She is also the vice president of the Louisiana State University Houston Chapter Alumni Association.
    Staff at North Houston Hearing Solutions are amazing. They are always very attentive…

    “Staff at North Houston Hearing Solutions are amazing. They are always very attentive. Dr Lacey Robinson always takes the time to set my hearing aids exactly the way I want them. I have been a patient since 2008 and will continue to be for as long as they will have me”
    Brian Becvar

    I have been a patient of Dr Lacey’s for four years and she has been the best for me...

    “I have been a patient of Dr Lacey’s for four years and she has been the best for me. She always treats me with respect. I would not consider going anywhere else. She is friendly and always has my best interest in her mind. All the staff is exceptional aswell”
    Dan Payne

    I have been seeing Dr Lacey Robinson at North Houston Hearing Solutions since November 2014. I have been very happy with the service....

    “I have been seeing Dr Lacey Robinson at North Houston Hearing Solutions since November 2014. I have been very happy with the service she and her associates have provided me. She is always willing to help me out even on short notice. I am very happy to have her as my audiologist. She goes the extra mile to ensure I am hearing like I should. Thank you Lacey!”
    Daniel Feuerbach

    Very professional, very friendly, very concerned with your total quality of life…

    “Very professional, very friendly, very concerned with your total quality of life. The hearing aids have reduced the stress in my marriage. We can now agree on the volume on the tv”
    Dennis Agnelly

    The people in the office are very nice and helpful. I love Drs, they are ready to take care of yo…

    “The people in the office are very nice and helpful. I love Drs, they are ready to take care of you even if you don’t have an appointment. I would recommend for anyone who has hearing needs”
    Florangela Ceballos

    I felt that the audiologist and other staff were always on top of the service I receive...

    “I have been coming to North Houston Hearing Solutions since they moved into the new building. Over the years I have purchased several hearing aids. I have only had great service during all the times. I felt that the audiologist and other staff were always on top of the service I receive. From calling to remind me that it is time to check my hearing aid to helping wade through the insurance paperwork, they were always as nice as can be. I would go nowhere else for hearing aids and the service”
    Marla Lingle

    Dr Lacey has kept me in ears (hearing aids) allowing me to hear without anyone knowing I have hearing aids in place...

    “I’ve been coming to North Houston Hearing Solutions for 5 years now. Dr Lacey has kept me in ears (hearing aids) allowing me to hear without anyone knowing I have hearing aids in place. She has been great and the staff has exceeded my expectations”
    Robert Bush

    I love coming here for doctors visits. Dr Robinson is a great doctor and I enjoy our visits...

    “I love coming here for doctors visits. Dr Robinson is a great doctor and I enjoy our visits. As usual she takes good care of us. The hearing aid is great and we are always treated great”
    Ronald Novotny