Like other biotoxin diseases, COVID 19 appears to trigger ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus for many people. While the loss of smell being more common led to its greater fame in the list of COVID symptoms, tinnitus is leaving a number of post COVID patients with an annoyance they would like to be rid of. Research is ongoing on how to treat this condition.
The New York Times article describes the stories of several tinnitus sufferers whose symptoms began during or after their acute COVID infection. It also mentions the stories of others who suffered tinnitus from other conditions like other viral infections.
The medical consensus with tinnitus believes that damage to the hair cells in the inner ears lead to the ringing or other reported sounds. These hair cells normally pick up the vibrations of sounds from our environment and transmit them to the nerves leading into our brain. Under normal circumstances, this allows us to hear voice, music, and any other noise around us. If these cells become overactive, we hear sounds that are not there. If they become underactive or damaged, we may not hear as well or lose hearing completely. Tinnitus may arise from damage leading to hyperactivity.
The Times article mentions two different medical papers regarding tinnitus and COVID 19. The first in International Journal of Audiology, “researchers pooled data from nearly 60 case reports and studies and found that nearly 15 percent of adults diagnosed with Covid-19 reported tinnitus”. Another study in the same journal from July, reported a 13 percent rate of tinnitus out of 138 patients followed post acute COVID. Other surveys noted by the Times article report increased tinnitus post COVID.
Conventional medicine is offering steroids to lower inflammation in the hair cells of the inner ear and seems to have some benefit. They offer cognitive behavioral therapy to help sufferers to ignore the symptoms. Many report lessened annoyance using sound machines either during the day or just during the night to help with sleep interference.
Functional medicine is working to apply the principles of biotoxin recovery to post COVID tinnitus as well as nerve cell restoration methods that have been successful in other neuropathic conditions. We await the results regarding tinnitus but the therapies are working for other post0COVID symptoms, so we are hopeful. Applying functional medicine’s wealth of experience in treating post viral syndromes ignored by conventional medicine should lead the way in helping Long Haulers with or without tinnitus to restore healthier more abundant lives.
When the Noise Never Stops: Coping With the Challenges of Tinnitus. By Hallie Levine. New York Times online. Published March 24, 2021. Accessed July 24, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/article/covid-symptoms-ears-ringing.html
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.