A 45-year-old British man has suffered sudden complete hearing loss while being treated for COVID-19, which doctors say is the first such case in the United Kingdom.
A case study published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal’s BMJ Case Reports said the man, who has asthma but is otherwise “fit and well,” was hospitalized several days after developing COVID-19 symptoms. He was subsequently placed on a ventilator and transferred to the intensive care unit, where he remained intubated for 30 days.
The patient received remdesivir, intravenous steroids and plasma exchange to treat his COVID-19 infection, which clinically improved. A week after being taken off the ventilator and transferring out of the ICU, the man noticed ringing in his left ear followed by sudden onset hearing loss. He had no previous history of hearing loss or ear pathology, according to the case study.
Following a week of hearing loss, the patient saw an otolaryngology specialist and was treated with steroids. His hearing partially recovered after completing a seven-day course, according to the case study.
The researchers — from the University College London and Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital — noted that there are only a few other reported cases of hearing loss following COVID-19 infection.
“This is the first reported case of sensorineural hearing loss following COVID-19 infection in the U.K.,” the researchers wrote. “Given the widespread presence of the virus in the population and the significant morbidity of hearing loss, it is important to investigate this further.”