Between the spring 2020 festival collapse and the first-ever decrease in streaming revenue, COVID-19‘s impact on music cannot be ignored. By the looks of things, the disease itself may have a long-term effect on the experience of sound as well. The virus has been linked to hearing loss in a case study published by healthcare journal BMJ Case Reports.
The article focuses on a 45-year-old patient with asthma admitted to a hospital after suffering from coronavirus symptoms for ten days. He reportedly experienced hearing loss for seven of the 30 days he was intubated in intensive care; during other intervals he suffered from bilateral pulmonary emboli, ventilator-associated pneumonia, pulmonary hypertension, and anemia.
One possible explanation posed by the authors was that the virus caused cell death after spreading to the patient’s ear canal, or that it triggered the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines in his body.
The study is limited by the anecdotal nature of the findings as they were isolated to a single COVID-19 case. The authors note, however, that a review of literature from 1950 to July 2020 turned up three other case reports and two case-controlled studies on the connection between the virus and hearing loss. To date, they say, the relationship has yet to be explored in depth.
BMJ Case Reports suggests that healthcare professionals screen COVID-19 outpatients for hearing loss in order to avoid missing the treatment window.
Image credit: Reynier Carl