CEO's Suicide Raises Questions About COVID and Tinnitus

The WHO, CDC don't list it as a symptom, but it's being reported
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2021 8:45 AM CDT
Could COVID Mess With Your Ears, Too? Maybe
   (Getty Images)

An audiology professor who co-authored a paper on COVID-19 and tinnitus that was published Monday got quite the response: some 100 emails in 24 hours, Kevin Munro of the University of Manchester tells the New York Times. "Almost of all of them were people saying, 'I was so happy to read about this, because my doctor thought I was crazy when I mentioned tinnitus and now I know I'm not the only one.'" Though that constant ringing in the ears isn't listed by the WHO or CDC as a COVID-19 symptom (the UK's NHS does include it on a list of long-haulers' symptoms), it turns out it might be one, and the possibility is getting attention following the Thursday suicide of Texas Roadhouse CEO Kent Taylor, whose family said he took his own life after "unbearable" suffering from symptoms related to COVID-19, including severe tinnitus.

The Times looks at what evidence is emerging. There's Munro's paper for one, published Monday in the Journal of International Audiology. It reviewed COVID-19 case reports and studies through December 2020 and found that "tinnitus was the most commonly documented audio-vestibular symptom ... with an estimated prevalence of 14.8%." That said, the authors urged caution due to several points, including that some studies relied on national tinnitus associations to reach participants. They noted that while they found no reports of audio-vestibular symptoms tied to previously known coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, other viruses like measles and rubella are associated with hearing loss. The Washington Post looks at the theories of what could potentially be at play, among them a viral inflammation's impact on the inner ear. (More tinnitus stories.)

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