UK sees a surge in ear damage cases among Covid patients

London, Apr 19 (IANS): An increasing number of people in the UK have developed tinnitus for the first time or have seen their symptoms worsen after a Covid attack, according to a media report.

Tinnitus -- a condition to describe sounds such as ringing, whooshing or humming coming from an internal source rather than externally. The condition affects nearly seven million people in the UK.

The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) has reported a 256 per cent rise in the number of web chats from May to December 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, while calls to its helpline rose by 16 per cent, the Guardian reported.

"Calls to our helpline and visits to our website have really increased as people are looking for support, and they're struggling to get through the healthcare system. For a lot of people, the emotional and social consequence [of Covid-19] has made tinnitus worse," David Stockdale, the BTA chief executive, was quoted as saying.

According to data collated by software company SEMrush, Tinnitus-related searches on Google have soared following the outbreak of Covid-19, with searches for "tinnitus causes" jumping 83 per cent in February 2021 compared with February 2020, while searches for "tinnitus" grew by 50 per cent over the same period, the report said.

Scientists are now concerned whether the Covid-19 virus or the medication used for treating the infectious disease is causing the ear damage.

"There are two sides to this - people who have got tinnitus now, either from Covid or just during the pandemic, and people with pre-existing tinnitus reporting that it's worse. We need more research to look into the different mechanics, but the possible reason could be the virus itself impacting the ear and causing ear damage that can result in tinnitus and hearing loss," Eldre Beukes, a research fellow in audiology at Anglia Ruskin University, was quoted as saying.

"Another possible theory is that the medication received in hospital while having Covid could have damaged the inner ear," Beukes said.


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