A 45-year-old COVID-19 patient in the UK now has permanent hearing loss

  • A UK man with asthma was hospitalized for over 30 days with a COVID-19 infection. While intubated, he also developed pneumonia, anemia, and hypertension.
  • Once doctors removed the man from his ventilator, his hearing deteriorated, an issue he never experienced before.
  • They gave him steroids to treat the hearing loss, and it improved slightly, but still remained.
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An otherwise healthy 45-year-old man in the UK lost his hearing after having COVID-19, making him the first reported case of such an instance in the country, according to a new case study in BMJ Case Reports.

The man, whose only underlying condition was asthma, experienced sudden onset sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL), or mild-to-severe hearing loss over a three-day period due to inner-ear damage. 

According to the doctors who authored the case report, only five other instances of COVID-19-related permanent hearing loss have been reported, and this was the first-ever UK case.

The man was hospitalized for over 30 days due to COVID-19

After having COVID-19 symptoms for 10 days, including shortness of breath, the man went to the hospital where he was admitted to the intensive care unit and put on a ventilator.

He stayed on the ventilator for 30 days, the doctors wrote, and during that time he developed pneumonia, blood clots in his lungs, hypertension, and anemia.

Doctors gave him remdesivir, steroids, and plasma to treat him, and he started to feel better. But a week after he stopped using the ventilator, the man noticed he couldn't hear most sounds in both ears, something he'd never experienced before.

The man told doctors he never had problems with hearing before, and when doctors checked his ears, they didn't see signs of inflammation or infection.

Still, after they completed hearing tests, they found that the man had mild hearing loss.

They gave the man steroids for seven days. Afterwards, his hearing improved at certain frequencies, but didn't recover fully.

Though the doctors can't say for sure if the coronavirus caused the man's permanent hearing loss, they thought it could be related.

The doctors suggested medical professionals test for hearing loss early on in COVID-19 patients to "avoid missing the treatment window."

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