One of the early recognized symptoms of COVID-19 involved the loss of smell and taste, raising the question of whether COVID-19 affects other senses as well. Elyse Sussman, Ph.D., Ashley Berlot, B.S., and colleagues retrospectively reviewed the charts of 1,352 randomly chosen COVID-19 patients seen in 2020 at Montefiore Hospital, to identify patients with new or worsening auditory symptoms (tinnitus, hearing loss, other hearing problems) or vestibular symptoms (dizziness, vertigo, or other balance problems). Of the 613 patients with documented symptoms, 74 agreed to participate in follow-up interviews over the next two years. Fifty eight percent initially had documented vestibular symptoms in 2020, and 43% were still reporting vestibular symptoms in 2021 and 2022. By contrast, while only 9% of patients had auditory symptoms in 2020, many more patients—55%—reported auditory symptoms in 2021 and 2020.
The results, published online on September 28 in Otology & Neurotology, indicated that vestibular symptoms accompanying the initial infection largely persisted for two years but that auditory symptoms appeared to increase over the two years of the study, suggesting that monitoring of “long COVID” patients should include assessments for auditory and vestibular problems.
Dr. Sussman is professor in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience and of otorhinolaryngology- head & neck surgery at Einstein. Ashley Berlot is a medical student in the Clinical Research Training Program at Einstein.
Posted on: Monday, November 06, 2023