COVID-19 and Vestibular Symptoms

By Pauline Carroll, SPT

            COVID-19 has taken the world by storm and is ever prevalent today. Symptoms such as loss of smell or taste and shortness of breath are frequently reported. However, with new research, there’s evidence that COVID-19 affects body systems other than the respiratory system.  The audio-vestibular system or the inner ear, is one of those systems and it can have lingering effects if not treated.

            Many routes of COVID-19 infection are described in research such as viral complications, inflammatory responses, blood vessel disorders, and the presence of specific cell receptors throughout the body. One survey found that people reported over 65 different symptoms of COVID-19, whereas other sources report over 205 different. Therefore, researchers contribute the various routes of infection to the wide variety of symptoms people experience with COVID-19.  Researchers found that loss of hearing, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), vertigo (sense of spinning), ear achiness, and inflammation of the inner ear to be the top five reported audio-vestibular symptoms. 

A case study of a 29-year-old patient showed quick onset of vestibular symptoms such as vertigo, nausea, and vomiting with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, while another case study of a 63-year-old female had symptoms of dizziness, vertigo, and unsteady gait five weeks after testing positive for COVID-19. Both case studies reported their patients being diagnosed with vestibular neuritis or inflammation of the inner ear which can cause dysfunction of the nerves that connect the ear to the brain. Therefore there is emerging evidence to suggest COVID-19 can cause vertigo, dizziness, and imbalance that is consistent with inner ear complications. Treatment techniques include medications to manage symptoms and vestibular exercises.  Lifeline Therapy can treat these symptoms.  Contact us to see how our team of specialists can help!

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