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COVID-19 Long Term Effects

It is believed that more than one hundred million people experienced health consequences from COVID long after they were negative for infection. According to one study, more than 40% of people who have had COVID have or have had long-term effects after their recovery from the initial infection.

The lingering symptoms, sometimes referred to as long-haul COVID (or if you want to get scientific: post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2, or PASC) can be both frustrating and uncomfortable.

What Are Long-Term COVID Symptoms?

According to The Centers for Disease Control, post-COVID conditions include a “wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Our knowledge about the virus’ health impact continues to evolve with time and research. Based on the information available, the CDC has posted a comprehensive list of post-COVID conditions. Some of the more common persistent health issues include:

  • shortness of breath
  • cough
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating (“brain fog”)
  • sleep disruptions
  • chest pain
  • headache

Possible Long-Term Effects on the Ears, Nose, and Throat

In addition to a cough, some of the potential long-term effects of coronavirus on the ears, nose, and throat include changes in smell or taste, hearing loss, tinnitus, and vestibular problems.

Loss of Taste and Smell

The loss of taste and smell was one of the earliest and most tell-tale symptoms of early COVID infections. In fact, anywhere from 20-85% of people with COVID infections experienced some degree of smell and taste loss. However, changes in taste and smell have been less common with newer variants.

There are many possible reasons you may experience a dulling of these senses including:

  • Age (especially over age 60)
  • Illness or infection (such as COVID-19)
  • Obstructions like nasal polyps
  • Medications
  • Cancer treatment
  • Head or brain trauma

Our senses impact our ability to enjoy life’s pleasures. They also affect our safety if we are unable to smell smoke or gas or cannot taste that food is spoiled. Unsurprisingly, research has confirmed that patients whose sense of taste and smell was affected by COVID had a loss of quality of life and safety as a result.

Researchers are continuing to explore therapies that may treat the loss of these senses in patients with long-haul COVID.

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Findings published in the International Journal of Audiology identified 56 studies that observed an association between COVID-19 and auditory and vestibular problems, such as vertigo. Researchers compiled data from 24 of these studies to estimate that the prevalence of hearing loss was 7.6%, tinnitus was 14.8% and vertigo was 7.2%.

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is caused by inner ear damage. Experts speculate that COVID-19 may cause damage due to a viral infection in the inner ear, an autoimmune response that accidentally attacks the inner ear, or clots that block the blood supply to the cochlea or semicircular ear canals.

Tinnitus may be an intermittent or continuous sound in one or both ears. Its pitch can go from a low roar to a high squeal or whine, or it can have many sounds. Researchers are not sure whether there’s a causal relationship between the coronavirus and tinnitus. However, some theorize that isolation and depression from staying at home for prolonged periods of time may have drawn more attention to someone’s tinnitus symptoms.

It’s also worth noting that research looking at a possible connection between hearing loss and
tinnitus included confirmed, probable, and suspected coronavirus cases.

(For information on whether there may be a connection between sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) and the COVID vaccine, read this blog.)

Vertigo

Of the audiovestibular (hearing and balance) changes for patients after a coronavirus infection, the least commonly reported is vertigo. An article published in the International Journal of Audiology evaluated 20 studies that estimated the prevalence of vertigo was 7.2%.

More generally, we do know that infections can cause vestibular (meaning “originating in the inner ear”) balance disorders. Symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling off-balance
  • Feeling as if you are floating or as if the world is spinning
  • Blurred vision
  • Disorientation
  • Falling or stumbling

However, the authors of this study caution that much of the data was collected from self-reported questionnaires and that physicians sometimes used the terms “vertigo” and “dizziness” interchangeably and the latter can have causes that are not vestibular.

Have You Noticed Changes in Your Hearing, Taste, or Smell?

Despite the multiple reports of symptoms, more research needs to be done to determine how a COVID-19 infection may affect (or have affected) your ear, nose, and throat health long term.

If you have seen changes in your ear, nose, or throat health, whether you’ve had COVID-19 or not, an otolaryngologist can work with you to diagnose and treat your condition.

To schedule an appointment at ENT Memphis to discuss your concerns, click here.

Best Hearing Aid

In part two of our series on your questions about hearing aids, we’re seeking to dispel some of the confusion and miscommunication about them. Let’s continue our conversation with ENT Memphis audiologist, Dr. Chris Hylander, to learn more about choosing hearing aids, where to purchase them, and how you can take them for a test drive.

How Do I Choose Which Hearing Aids are Best for Me?

No two (or ten) hearing aids are alike so it’s time to narrow down your choices. One of our hearing care professionals will guide you through the options and help you understand the pros and cons of the various brands, styles, and technical features of hearing aids.

At ENT Memphis we consider your lifestyle, your hearing loss, and your goals for using hearing aids to recommend options to fit your unique listening needs. We work with major manufacturers and offer hearing aids of all types and styles from custom fit to small behind-the-ear devices to get you the best result for the most reasonable cost.

Can I “Test Drive” Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are a significant purchase. You always test drive a car before buying it, right?
Spending about ten minutes wearing hearing aids may amaze you when you experience what you’ve been missing and how much hearing aids can help you. We have trial devices that you can take home for one to two weeks through our Flex-Trial program to help you hear the difference for yourself.

Buying Hearing Aids: ENT Memphis vs. “Big Box Store?”

Hearing aids are typically sold either “bundled” or “unbundled.” What’s the difference?

Bundled service programs include some or all of your follow-up care with the cost of your hearing aids.

Unbundled hearing aids purchased online or in stores typically include very limited aftercare, which means you will need to pay for follow-up services. While unbundled costs are much cheaper upfront they often result in poorer outcomes and what feels like frivolous charges during every visit.

Patients with unbundled service plans tend to come back less often for follow-up care and therefore are generally less satisfied with their purchase. Hearing-aid users with less than optimal results are typically not wearing the aids consistently. If you are not compliant with follow-up care and use you’re probably wasting your money. Think of getting hearing aids as an investment in yourself, your good health, and your life.

At ENT Memphis, we use a bundled service plan to ensure that you receive proper follow-up care and get the most out of your hearing aids. This includes “clean and check” appointments to maintain hearing aid performance as well as hearing testing, prescription updates, and hearing aid adjustments.

Do Hearing Aids Come with a Warranty?

Hearing aids are small, wearable, electronic devices like smartwatches and cell phones. Because they are worn on your ear they are exposed to sweat, humidity, and earwax for 12 hours or more a day.

Manufacturers typically include one to three years of warranty for defects with the purchase of new devices. An additional one-year warranty is often included on some models for the receiver that is placed in the ear just in case life happens. Manufacturers often also include a “Loss and Damage” policy that allows for the replacement of a damaged or lost device for a small deductible. If we cannot repair your hearing aid in the office, we will contact the manufacturer and expedite the repairs or replacement.

Despite all of the advances in hearing aid development proper maintenance and cleaning are still necessary to keep your devices working at their best. With good maintenance and care hearing aids can last up to five years.

How Long Do Hearing Aid Batteries Last?

The typical button cell/zinc-air battery will last 5-7 days before the power begins to drop off and is no longer able to run the hearing aid. New rechargeable hearing aids have built-in lithium-ion batteries designed that will run up to 24 hours on one charge, and 16 hours when paired through Bluetooth with a smartphone. These batteries are guaranteed by the manufacturers to last at least three years and often last much longer.

ENT Memphis: Choosing the Best Hearing Aid for the Best Results

Our experienced team can determine which hearing aids can help improve your quality of life. We won’t just sell you hearing aids, we will work with you to maintain them and get you the optimal result over their lifespan. Schedule an appointment to have your hearing evaluated today.

About 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids. In fact, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, fewer than 30 percent of adults aged 70 and over who could benefit from hearing aids have used them.

This gap suggests there is a lot of misinformation, confusion, and even reluctance when it comes to using hearing aids. We sat down with ENT Memphis audiologist, Dr. Chris Hylander, to find out the answers to some of the top questions people have about hearing aids.

Continue reading Everything You Wanted to Know About Hearing Aids from an Audiologist

hearing aids

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) approximately 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids. When worn consistently, hearing aids can help combat the loneliness and social isolation that many people with hearing loss can experience. Withdrawing from others and avoiding social situations can have an impact on cognitive function as we age.

Continue reading Before Buying Hearing Aids, Consider These Three Things

hearing loss and the covid-19 vaccine

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.

Continue reading Is Sudden Hearing Loss Linked to the COVID-19 Vaccine?

tonsillectomy

Most parents have been there. You’re putting your child to bed and they begin complaining that their ear is hurting. Your pediatrician’s office closed more than two hours ago so your options are racing to the after-hours clinic or waiting until morning.

Or maybe this is the fourth sore throat your child has had this year. Not only has she missed several days of school, but you’re not excited about the thought of putting her on antibiotics again. Between allergies, the common cold, strep throat, and now COVID-19, it can be hard to figure out what’s going on with your child. And while unpredictable, illness often strikes at what feels like the worst possible time.

Continue reading Why a Tonsillectomy May Help Your Child’s Chronic Ear and Throat Infections

Approximately one in 10 Americans undergo a Computed Tomography (CT) scan each year in order to detect abnormalities, injuries, or diseases. A highly regarded diagnostic imaging tool due to its ability to detect minute differences in tissue as well as its multiplanar reformatted imaging capabilities, CT is used to diagnose conditions of the neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis, extremities, cardiac and vascular system, and sinus and temporal bones.

There are many factors that contribute to an accurate diagnosis based on CT imaging. The training and experience of both the operator performing the procedure and the interpreting physician, the type of CT equipment used, adherence to radiation dose guidelines, and the quality assessment metrics each facility is required to measure, all contribute to a positive patient outcome. IACaccreditation is a “seal of approval” that patients can rely on as an indicator of consistent quality care and a dedication to continuous improvement.

Continue reading ENT Memphis Earns CT Reaccreditation by the IAC

Signs of Hearing Loss

Have you found yourself nodding along with conversations you are struggling to follow because you’re too embarrassed to ask someone to repeat themselves? Or maybe your spouse keeps asking why you have the volume on the television unusually loud. Do you have a “good ear” and a “bad ear”? Social situations that used to be fun are now frustrating and stressful. If you’re honest with yourself, maybe you know your hearing isn’t what it used to be.

Continue reading The Signs of Hearing Loss and What Can You Do About It

We are taking the following precautions to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff:

  • Sanitizing rooms in between patients
  • All ENT Memphis staff have been instructed to wear masks.
  • Patients are instructed to wear masks
  • Every patient will be assessed for symptoms; this includes a temperature check
  • Social distancing is being practiced within the office
  • Hand sanitizer is available throughout the office
  • Patients may opt to wait in the car rather than in the waiting room

Everyone likely has coronavirus on their mind lately, but for allergy sufferers, there might be that nagging question, “Is this a reaction to ragweed or something more?”

There is certainly some overlap between allergy symptoms and symptoms of COVID-19, however, there are also significant differences.

Continue reading COVID-19 or Seasonal Allergies? Helpful Hints on Knowing the Difference