If you’re been paying attention to the news, or have experienced a recent change in your hearing, you may be aware of a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery that explored a possible connection between COVID-19 immunization and sudden hearing loss. Let’s take a closer look and see if this is something you should be concerned about.
What is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSNHL)?
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) is characterized by problems of the inner ear, or cochlea, and/or the auditory nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain. It occurs when there is damage to the tiny hair cells in the cochlear and/or the auditory nerve leaving them unable to convert sound waves into neural signals that will eventually reach the brain. SSNHL is defined as hearing loss of 30 dB (decibels) or greater over at least three continuous audiometric frequencies within a 72-hour period. Causes for SSNHL can include: viruses, aging, head and acoustic trauma, medication reactions, circulatory issues, and Ménière’s disease.
Is There a Link Between Hearing Loss and the COVID Vaccine?
Back to the study we mentioned earlier. Some researchers at The Johns Hopkins University and around the nation were noticing an increase in patients presenting with sudden sensorineural hearing loss following their COVID-19 immunizations. Using data from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) maintained by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to track any adverse reactions to vaccinations, study authors sought to determine whether there was a correlation between receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and onset of SSHNL.
Researchers considered the amount of vaccine recipients who complained of an onset of SSNHL within three weeks of being immunized between December 14, 2020, and March 2, 2021 and then made estimations on an annualized basis. When accounting for underreporting and the fact that VAERS data is unverified, study authors concluded that the COVID-19 vaccine is not proven to cause an increase in SSNHL. Therefore, if you have not been vaccinated and are planning to be vaccinated there is little reason to be concerned about an impact on your hearing.
What Should I Do if I am Experiencing Sudden Hearing Loss?
Untreated hearing loss can lead to depression, frustration and isolation. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of SSNHL it’s important to see a physician to discuss treatment options that can restore your quality of life:
- Muffled hearing
- Challenges in understanding speech
- Stuffiness in the ear
- Ringing sounds
Depending on the cause of your hearing loss you may benefit from surgery, medication or hearing aids to help you hear better.
Don’t Settle for Poor Hearing That May Be Helped
If you’ve experienced a sudden change in your hearing, or maybe you’ve been ignoring your hearing loss for years and are ready to do something about it, why not start with our free three-minute online screening to determine how well you’re hearing. We’ll send you your results and let you know your options accordingly. If you’d like to make an in-person appointment with Dr. Rande Lazar and his team to have your hearing evaluated, call us at 901-821-4300, or book an appointment here on our website.