One in five people infected with Covid is experiencing a little-known symptom, according to a study. Ear condition tinnitus has been added to ZOE study’s list of conditions which the virus could exacerbate.
Tinnitus is characterised by a ringing in the ear. A survey carried out by health organisation ZOE showed that of 14,500 people surveyed, some 5,000 reported both testing positive and suffering some ringing in their ears.
ZOE co-founder Professor Tim Spector warned that the new symptom should be taken “really seriously” as it could indicate that the virus is attacking the body in new ways. In a video posted to ZOE’s YouTube channel, he outlined how tinnitus could be among the many symptoms of Covid.
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He said: “It turns out that 19%, or nearly one in five of you did have one ear problems with Covid, and in our newsletter we got 14,500 of you to complete the survey and we had about 5,000 of you tested positive for Covid and had the ear ringing.
“What we learned from this was that for a few it lasted only a couple of days, and most people, over 50% said they were still experiencing some form of ear ringing that comes and goes and is mild or moderate for weeks or months afterwards.
“This was a bit of a shock to me, it was something I thought went. I did get it but it disappeared pretty quickly.
“Obviously a lot of people do suffer from tinnitus and you told us that that generally got worse when you got infected.
“I think it’s a symptom that is now going along with some of these long Covid symptoms.”
Prof Spector went on to draw attention to other seemingly mild long term symptoms. Things such as loss of smell might seem mild compared to other symptoms, but could be indicative of how the virus is attacking the body and the brain in particular.
“This highlights the first time that ear ringing as with long term loss of smell, which we saw particularly with the previous variants, is something to take seriously because it does suggest that a different part of the body is been affected, more internal and close to the brain.
“We’ve heard anecdotally from my ENT colleagues that they have seen an increase in referrals for tinnitus following Covid.
“It really is something we need to know more about and see whether people are going to end up with more permanent problems.”
The Omicron variant has proven highly infectious. The government is reporting some 422,208 confirmed cases of the Omicron AB.2 variant as of today, an increase of 15,253 since the last update.
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