Tinnitus was ‘louder than ever before’ after contracting Covid-19
Research has shown that hearing loss and Tinnitus may be a side effect of Covid-19 and long Covid.
For people already suffering for Tinnitus, research has also shown that their symptoms may be exacerbated by the virus.
Tinnitus is the perception of noises and those living with the condition experience ringing, buzzing, hissing, whistling or other sounds.
It affects approximately seven million people in the UK and the sensation can be constant or intermittent and the volume can vary.
One local woman has shared her experience of worsening tinnitus after contracting Covid-19.
Aisling Starrs, who is co-facilitator of a local Tinnitus support group, has hearing loss in one ear and first experienced tinnitus in her other ear shortly after the birth of her son.
“I have had hearing loss since I was born and would have had a lot of bother with my ears when I was young.
“My tinnitus journey began about two and half years ago, seconds after giving birth to my son and at the time I thought it’ll pass. I thought it was probably because of my lengthy labour. I didn’t do anything about it for a few months, but then I eventually went to my doctor.”
Aisling has pulsatile tinnitus, which has a beat in time with her heartbeat.
“I went through all the usual channels to get a diagnosis - GP, audiology, ENT and MRI. My line of work meant I already had some information on how to manage my tinnitus.
“That along with having a new-born, when I was busy and tired through lack of sleep, it never affected me negatively or caused me any frustration and I eventually reached habituation.”
This is where you are aware of it, but the tinnitus does not have a negative impact and is just there in the background.
“It would be much like if you have an extraction fan on in the background, you don’t really pay attention to it,” Aisling explained. “For others with Tinnitus it is very much at the forefront of their consciousness, is all consuming and leads to mental health issues. But I never got like that at the start.”
However, that changed in September last year when Aisling contracted Covid-19.
“I never had any of the recognised symptoms like temperature or a cough. The attack on my ears was the worst symptom I had.”
Aisling said she experienced severe pressure in her ears for around three weeks and her tinnitus came back louder than ever before.
“At first I thought it was due to stress, I was worrying about who I had been in contact with, whether I had put them at risk, how it would affect my family and who would look after my son if I ended up hospitalised.”
She thought that the tinnitus may return to it’s normal level once she was less stressed, but eight months on it continues to be louder than it ever has been.
Aisling began to research on the internet, but initially couldn’t find any answers.
“At the time I didn’t know anyone else who had Tinnitus and had contracted Covid-19, so I was unable to find out if I was the only one experiencing this.”
It wasn’t until she attended a British Tinnitus Association conference in October last year that Aisling realised she wasn’t alone and that research was already being conducted.
A study looking at the experiences of people with tinnitus worldwide during the Covid-19 pandemic found that nearly half of UK sufferers report that their tinnitus has been made worse due to the impact of lockdown and lifestyle changes.
“The research has also found that Tinnitus was a common side effect of Covid-19 and long Covid. It was a massive relief for me knowing that it wasn’t just me, I wasn’t imagining it and this wasn’t the noise of my stress.”
Aisling began to use techniques to manage her Tinnitus.
“It is similar to how you manage stress and if you can manage your stress levels you can manage your tinnitus.
“I want to share my story with others so they don’t feel the same way that I did. There is support and help out there.”
For more information visit: https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/