A hidden Covid “symptom” is affecting one in six people who catch the virus, and has the potential to dramatically affect sufferers’ daily lives.
Tinnitus is the name given to the experience when a person can hear a ringing in their ears or other noise but nobody else can. The noise could be a low-pitched humming, a buzzing, a high-pitch whistle or a hissing.
According to estimates from the International Journal of Audiology, as many as one in six individuals with Covid had tinnitus, most often during the early stages of the virus, reports Devon Live.
The NHS lists tinnitus as one of the symptoms of long Covid – also known as post-Covid syndrome.
Below, Katie Ogden, the HCPC registered hearing aid dispenser and Training Manager for ReSound North-West Europe offers some expert advice on tinnitus. There is also a list of long-Covid symptoms from the NHS
The NHS lists tinnitus as one of the symptoms of long Covid
How to tell if you’re suffering from tinnitus?
There is no set rule about what that sound will be with the following being the most common:
A low pitch humming sound
A high pitch whistle
Tinnitus is the name given to the experience when a person can hear a noise but nobody else can
How can it impact everyday life?
Tinnitus can be very distracting and prevent people from being able to concentrate which in turn is very frustrating, it is often associated with insomnia and can contribute to issues with mental health such as anxiety, stress and depression.
The vicious cycle
The difficulty is that tinnitus can become part of a vicious cycle, in its most basic form of this cycle, stress feeds off of tinnitus and tinnitus feeds off of stress so the key to successfully managing tinnitus is to find the method/s that breaks the cycle for the person that is struggling to cope with tinnitus.
Tinnitus can contribute to issues with mental health
What causes tinnitus?
There is no clear cause for tinnitus only theories of possibilities, this is why there is no cure. Remember this is a sound that no one else can hear, which means no one else can prove if it is even happening, nor can anyone prove it isn’t happening. This makes tinnitus an incredibly complex condition but also a very unique condition to the person who is trying to live with it.
There are however some thoughts around possible causes relating to hearing loss:
Trauma to the head, neck and ears
Stress and anxiety
Nerve damage and other neurological disorders
Treatments and medication
On the other hand, tinnitus can often occur or start for absolutely no reason at all.
How to manage and cope with tinnitus
While there is no cure, there are many methods, tactics and strategies that can enable a sufferer to successfully manage their condition. These include:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (CBT)
Tinnitus Retraining Therapies (TRT)
Where to get help?
In the UK, there are many regional tinnitus support groups where you can go and meet others to discuss further management techniques or even just talk about your experiences with others in a similar situation, which can be a huge help.
You can also contact your GP or a hearing care professional for further information. UK audiologists can be found and contacted through the ReSound website. Alternatively, you can go to the British Tinnitus Association website at https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/ for even more information about tinnitus and available support.
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If you are experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression and want to talk to someone there are many people waiting to listen to you right now call the Samaritans on 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258 or go to https://www.samaritans.org/ to live chat.
NHS on long Covid
How long it takes to recover from Covid-19 is different for everybody.
Many people feel better in a few days or weeks and most will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms can last longer.
The chances of having long-term symptoms does not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first get Covid-19.
People who had mild symptoms at first can still have long-term problems.
Symptoms of long COVID
There are lots of symptoms you can have after a Covid-19 infection.
Common long Covid symptoms include:
extreme tiredness (fatigue)
shortness of breath
chest pain or tightness
problems with memory and concentration ("brain fog")
difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
pins and needles
depression and anxiety
feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste