Thousands of people say they have developed tinnitus after being vaccinated against Covid. While there is no proof yet that the vaccines caused the condition, theories about a possible link have surfaced among researchers.
Shaowen Bao, an associate professor in the department of physiology at the University of Arizona School of Medicine, Tucson, believes that ongoing inflammation, especially in the brain or spinal cord, may be the cause.
wow, long time sick with tinnitus and a representative on the scientific advisory board of the American Tinnitus Association, has studied tinnitus for more than a decade.
A Facebook group of people who developed tinnitus after receiving a Covid vaccine convinced Bao to investigate the possible link. He ultimately surveyed 398 of the group’s participants.
The cases tended to be severe. A man told Bao that he couldn’t hear the car radio because of the noise in his head while he was driving.
In addition to ringing in the ears, participants reported a variety of other symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, vertigo, ear pain, anxiety, and depression. Significantly more people developed tinnitus for the first time after the first dose of the vaccine, compared to the second.
This suggests «that the vaccine is interacting with pre-existing risk factors for tinnitus. If you have the risk factor, you’ll probably get it with the first dose,» Bao said.
It is still analyzing the results and has not published any preliminary findings.
Is there a link between vaccinations and tinnitus?
Starting Sunday at least 16,183 people They had filed complaints with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that they had developed tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, after receiving a Covid vaccine.
After internal reviews of the reports, the CDC «did not find any data to suggest a link between Covid-19 vaccines and tinnitus,» an agency spokesperson said in an email.
However, the CDC has not made those reviews public, as it did after investigating other possible side effects of the vaccine, such as inflammation of the heart or myocarditis, frustrating Dr. Gregory Poland, leading vaccine expert, founder and director of Vaccine from the Mayo Clinic. Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota.
«Why hasn’t the CDC done all the research they should on this and published it?» Poland said.
Poland, which suffered from tinnitus after receiving its covid vaccinations two years ago, suggested that the CDC remains «unconcerned» by these reports of tinnitus.
In your case, the noise sounds like a constant, shrill hiss. The noise has not improved and continues to affect your sleep and quality of life.
“There are some days when I’m busy or haven’t been exposed to much noise, where it’s tolerable. Other days, I could just scream,” she said.
Since speaking publicly about her experience, Poland has received emails from strangers «almost daily» who say they experience the same constant noises and believe it was caused by the covid vaccines.
«You never get over tinnitus,» he said.
What makes the human brain evoke a sound that affects a person’s daily life?
a team in Stanford Medicine Laboratory of Molecular Neurotology in California has begun studies to find the possible underlying mechanism of tinnitus. The goal is to find a biomarker that can help identify a person at higher risk of developing tinnitus after receiving a vaccine.
«We think that many forms of tinnitus reflect some damage to the inner ear,» said Dr. Konstantina Stankovic, an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon who is leading the new research. «And then the brain tries to compensate for the damage and starts making its own sound,» she said.
The study is in its early stages. Stankovic’s team has collected blood samples from fewer than 20 patients so far.
“We may not find anything,” he said. “Or it could be a home run. We just don’t know. We are working as hard as we can to answer these questions.”
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is common in the United States, affecting up to 25% of adults, according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Children can also develop the condition.
It is a phantom noise in a person’s ear, which means that no one else can hear what the patient is hearing.
There are many potential causes, including age-related hearing loss, certain medications, ear infections, and high blood pressure. the cdc Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System has had reports of tinnitus after other vaccinations and infections, including Covid, too.
«It is not surprising that CDC receives reports of tinnitus in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System after vaccination, including vaccination against COVID-19,» a CDC spokesperson said in an email.
while a study published last fall found that the risk of tinnitus after receiving the Covid vaccine is «low», that does not mean that it does not exist.
Poland believes the virus’s spike protein may play a role, just as it could continue to wreak havoc in the body in other ways.
«After mRNA vaccines, some level of spike protein circulates,» Poland said. Could it be a lot like the spike protein in the heart that leads to myocarditis? Could the same thing happen in the inner ear?»
researchers in Yale University have begun enrolling participants in a study to learn more about long-term covid symptoms, including tinnitus.
«There is a heterogeneity of manifestations of long-covid,» said Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a professor of medicine at Yale University and a clinical investigator of long-covid. «We really need to be able to map this out and organize it in a way that we can understand it.»
Anecdotally, people have long reported a link between Covid infection and a strange tingling or buzzing in different parts of your body. Krumholz speculates that tinnitus may be caused by internal vibrations in the ear.
«The strategy we’re taking is to listen very carefully to the experience of people who are suffering and try to correlate their experiences with what’s going on inside their bodies,» he said. «These people are suffering.»
How to handle ghost sounds
There is no diagnostic test for tinnitus, but experts suggest seeing an otolaryngologist first to rule out any underlying cause of the ringing in the ears, such as an ear infection or high blood pressure.
Otherwise, there are no standard, proven ways to treat tinnitus.
Poland, who is also a minister, finds meditative prayer helpful in quieting the noise. He also listens to soothing classical music or «orange noise» in his air pods.
«Then I can relax,» Polonia said. «I actually envision a volume dial turning that noise down. It’s always an effort, but it helps, at least temporarily.»