From a dry cough to a loss of sense of smell, a number of unpleasant symptoms are known to be associated with coronavirus.
Now, a new study suggests that there’s another symptom to be aware of – hearing loss.
Researchers from John Hopkins School of Medicine have revealed that the virus can infect not only the nose and throat, but also the ear and mastoid bone of the skull.
In their study, the researchers analysed three patients who had died from coronavirus – a man in his 60s, a woman in her 60s and a woman in her 80s.
Their analysis revealed that the woman in her 80s had the virus in her right middle ear, while the man in his 60s had the virus in his left and right middle ears, as well as in his left and right mastoids.
In the study, published in JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg, the researchers, led by Dr Katilyn Frazier, wrote: “This study confirms the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in the middle ear and mastoid.”
While the sample size for the study was very small, the findings indicate that ear issues, including a loss of hearing, could be a sign of coronavirus.
The researchers added: “Mastoid and middle ear colonization with SARS-CoV-2 does not necessarily imply current or future otologic symptomatology, and known living patients with SARS-CoV-2 ear colonization may benefit from screening for otologic manifestations.”
In the UK, the government currently only lists three key symptoms for coronavirus – a dry cough, high fever and loss of smell or taste.
The NHS advises: “The main symptoms of coronavirus are: a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).
“A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).
“A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.”