After a long stay in intensive care, hearing problems were detected.
There have been five reported cases of hearing loss following Covid-19 infection – this was the first reported in the UK.
The report, detailed in the journal BMJ Case Reports, details human hearing loss – also known as sudden onset sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL).
Experts from University College London and the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital said sudden hearing loss can “easily be missed in an intensive care setting” as they called on doctors to be aware of the complication rare.
They said raising awareness could allow doctors to give steroids early treatment that offers the best chance of hearing recovery.
The man was admitted to hospital 10 days after starting to experience symptoms of Covid-19.
He required treatment in the intensive care unit and was intubated for 30 days.
The man suffered from a variety of other complications, including high blood pressure, anemia, ventilator-associated pneumonia and a blood clot.
A week after and transferred out of the intensive care unit, he noticed tinnitus on his left side and sudden hearing loss.
He had no history of hearing loss or ear problems.
A week later, he was seen by ear, nose and throat specialists.
The man was treated with oral steroids for seven days, resulting in partial subjective improvement in his hearing.
He also had a small amount of steroids injected directly into his middle ear – but didn’t see any additional benefit from this treatment.
“Hearing loss and tinnitus are symptoms which have been observed in patients with both Covid-19 and the influenza virus, but which have not been detected,” the authors wrote. .
“In the case presented here, the patient was previously well without any other cause attributable to his SSNHL.
“In addition, it should be noted that the patient mentioned the difficulty of recognizing hearing loss in the busy ITU environment and its subsequent realization.
“Despite the small number of studies, it is important to consider the possibility of a relationship between Covid-19 and SSNHL. ”
They added: “This is the first reported case of sensorineural hearing loss following Covid-19 infection in the UK.
“Given the widespread presence of the virus in the population and the significant morbidity of hearing loss, it is important to investigate further.
“This is especially true given the need to identify and treat hearing loss early and the current difficulty in accessing medical services.
“We suggest that patients be asked about hearing loss in ITU settings where appropriate, and any patient reporting acute hearing loss should be referred to otolaryngology on an urgent basis.