People who have received COVID-19 vaccinations have reported sudden sensorineural hearing loss.The annual incidence estimates of abrupt sensorineural hearing loss was between 0.3 and 4.1 per 100,000, based on Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) data, reported Eric Formeister, MD, MS, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and co-authors in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery estimates that 5 to 27 people per 100,000 suffer from abrupt sensorineural hearing loss each year. Formeister and colleagues discovered 147 cases of abrupt hearing loss linked to COVID vaccines in VAERS.
“Among the otolaryngology community and larger medical community, there is a lot of interest surrounding a perception of an increased rate of sudden hearing loss that has been observed in some patients after COVID vaccination,” Formeister commented.
“However, sudden hearing loss can also occur naturally, so it is not known whether sudden hearing loss occurring after COVID vaccination is coincidental or may be related to the vaccine,” he added. “Further, some patients who have suffered sudden hearing loss after the first dose have been hesitant to receive the second dose due to safety concerns.”
A temporal link was found in 40 of the reports (hearing loss onset occurred within 3 weeks of vaccination). The “most likely” classification was given to these 40 reports.
“Unanswered questions include whether providers should still recommend a second vaccination if a patient experiences hearing symptoms after an initial vaccine dose,” Formeister pointed out.
The most likely group was 56 years old on average, with women accounting for 63 percent of the cases.Hearing loss happened 4 days after immunization on average. Steroids were used in thirty of the forty instances. Researchers predicted a minimal incidence of 0.3 per 100,000 per year based on approximately 86 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccination doses delivered in the United States throughout the study period.
“Sudden sensorineural hearing loss often is a debilitating condition, noted Elliott Kozin, MD, of Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston, who wasn’t involved with the study. “In addition to hearing loss, it may result in ear fullness, tinnitus, and occasionally dizziness,” he stated.
“In addition, treatment of sudden sensorineural hearing loss is typically a short course of oral or injected steroids,” Kozin added. “We do not know if the treatment of sudden sensorineural hearing loss with steroids may decrease the efficacy of concurrent vaccination.”
Patients who have hearing loss symptoms after receiving a vaccine should contact their doctor. Treatments are available for sudden sensorineural hearing loss, however the effectiveness of therapy is time-dependent.