New research shows that tinnitus, a common condition that causes noise in the ears and head, is exacerbated by COVID-19 – as well as measures to help keep us safe.
The study of 3,303 people with tinnitus was led by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), with support from the Tinnitus Association of England and the Tinnitus Association of America. The study included participants from 48 countries, with the majority coming from the UK and the US.
Posted in the magazine Borders in public healthResearch shows that 40% of people with symptoms of COVID-19 also experience worse tinnitus.
Although the study focused on people with pre-existing tinnitus, a small number of participants also reported that their condition was initially triggered by developing COVID-19 symptoms, suggesting that tinnitus May be a ‘persistent COVID’ symptom in some cases.
Tinnitus affects an estimated one in eight adults in the UK and has been linked to reduced emotional health, depression and anxiety.
New research also shows that a large percentage of people believe their tinnitus is getting worse due to social deterrent measures to help control the spread of the virus. These measures have resulted in significant changes to work habits and lifestyle.
Respondents in the UK said this was a bigger problem than those from other countries, with 46% of UK respondents saying that lifestyle changes had negatively affected tinnitus. they compared with 29% in North America.
Intrinsic anxiety such as fear of COVID-19 infection, financial anxiety, loneliness and difficulty sleeping contributed to 32% of people in general having tinnitus, with external factors such as increased phone calls. , noisy home environment, home school attendance and increased coffee and alcohol consumption were also cited by respondents. Women and people under the age of 50 find tinnitus significantly more uncomfortable during a pandemic.
The study notes that along with the increased severity of tinnitus symptoms, the COVID-19 pandemic also makes it harder for people to access healthcare support for this condition. This can aggravate emotional distress and worsen tinnitus symptoms, creating a vicious cycle. Before COVID-19, more than eight out of 10 patients in the UK were dissatisfied with the treatment options available from their healthcare professional.
Lead author, Dr. Eldre Beukes, Research Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge, UK, and Lamar University in Texas, said: “The findings of this study highlight the complexity involved. tinnitus and both internal factors, such as increased anxiety and loneliness, and external factors, such as daily routine changes, can have a significant effect. to the condition.
“Some of the changes brought about by COVID-19 appear to have had a negative impact on the lives of people with tinnitus, and participants in this study reported that the COVID-19 symptoms were getting worse. over or in some cases, even causing tinnitus and hearing loss. . This is something that needs to be closely examined by both clinical and supportive services ”.
“With the second wave of COVID-19 and as a result locking the country door is likely to increase sensation,” said David Stockdale, executive director of the British Tinnitus Association and co-author of the study. Stressful and isolated, it is important that we don’t see the same mistakes as before when providing public health to people with tinnitus.
“Treatment of bad tinnitus in the early stages often leads to worse cases and severe tinnitus can have a huge impact on mental health. With this in mind, as the second wave of COVID-19 continues, the healthcare system needs to ensure that anyone who experiences tinnitus or worsens can access supportive care. the healthcare professional they need as quickly as possible.
Reference: November 5, 2020, Borders in public health.
DOI: 10.3389 / fpubh.2020.592878