According to existing research, there is practically no part of the body that the new Coronavirus does not assault, but this study adds one more: the brain. This is the first time that a novel coronavirus has been shown to attack the brain. As a result of this infection, COVID-19 may cause hearing and balance issues in the person who has it. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and adult human inner ear tissue exposed them to the virus to see if they could replicate the symptoms in COVID-19 patients who had hearing loss, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), dizziness, and balance problems.
According to their results, it seems that the SARS-CoV-2 virus may infect the inner ear, namely hair cells, which are critical for hearing and balance. A small number of Schwann cells, which function as insulators for neurons, may be infected by the Coronavirus; however, this is only to a limited degree.
Infection And Damage To Inner Ear Are Possibilities When It Comes To Coronavirus
It was discovered by a study team on October 29 that other cell types in the inner ear are not susceptible to infection. The results were published in the journal Communications Medicine. For the researchers to be able to begin working with SARS-CoV-2, they first had to create viral models.
“This discovery provides a path forward for dealing with not just SARS-CoV-2 but also other viruses that cause hearing loss,” research co-leader Lee Gehrke remarked in a news statement issued by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the university, he has a post as a professor at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.
According to the researchers, the Eustachian tube, which connects the nose to the middle ear, might be a plausible channel for coronavirus entry into the ears. The researchers believe that According to Dr. KonstantinaStankovic, co-leader of the research and former head of otology and neurotology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Eye and Ear, the virus may also be able to sneak out of the nose via microscopic gaps around the olfactory nerves, enter the brain region, and infect cranial nerves, such as the one that links to the inner ear, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Her appointment as head of the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine is effective immediately.
It is still unknown what percentage of COVID-19 people have suffered from ear issues, despite the fact that the study offers solid evidence that the Coronavirus may cause hearing and balance impairments. For the most part, Stankovic explained in a press release, “This was due to the fact that routine testing for patients who were diagnosed with COVID was not readily available, as well as the fact that patients who were experiencing more life-threatening complications weren’t paying much attention to whether their hearing was diminished or whether they had tinnitus.”
Despite the fact that “we still don’t know how frequent it is,” she said, “our findings underline the need of paying particular attention to audiovestibular symptoms in patients who have been exposed to COVID.” According to the researchers, clinical studies to test possible therapeutics for inner ear infections caused by SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses will be the team’s next step.