There has been an awareness in the audiology world since March 2020, that some patients who have reported having COVID 19 also report an increase in tinnitus symptoms. For some patients this is a new experience of tinnitus and for others their pre-existing tinnitus appears to have been made worse by COVID.
Results from long term studies into this won’t report for several years of course, so it was with interest that we noted a study on pubmed which retrospectively examined the impact of tinnitus on a group of people with and without pandemic pressure. This showed that for the group of 188 patients in the study, those with pandemic pressure had a higher score on Tinnitus Handicap Inventory than those who were measured in the previous year, pre-pandemic.
In many way this is no surprise, since it is well know that anxiety and stress can lead to an increase in tinnitus awareness. For all of us, both with and without tinnitus, we have experienced a lot of change and anxiety in the past twelve months as we have coped with the restrictions on our life of COVID lockdowns and of course the illness itself.
For our work in the clinic with patients, we are noting an increased number of individuals with high anxiety. The use of appropriately bespoke counselling with our in-house therapist, Julianne Mullen PhD is supporting many of these patients with their anxiety but we are looking forward, like everyone else, to a time in the future when we can regard COVID in a similar way to flu. Still potentially deadly, still a major threat to older people, but something that is manageable by regular inoculation and boosters.