A new Covid symptom may have been discovered as patients have been found to suffer hearing issues, research has shown.
Experts are now calling for an “urgent” further study to better understand the long-term links between the disease and hearing issues.
They said it was “well-known” that other viruses like measles and meningitis can cause hearing loss but little is understood about the effects of Covid-19.
Researchers found 56 studies that identified an association between the virus and auditory and vestibular problems, such as tinnitus and vertigo.
The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that process the sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements.
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Testers pooled data from 24 of the studies to estimate that the prevalence of hearing loss was 7.6 per cent, tinnitus was 14.8 per cent and vertigo was 7.2 per cent.
The team – who followed up their review carried out a year ago – described the quality of the studies as fair.
Their data primarily used self-reported questionnaires or medical records to obtain Covid-19-related symptoms, rather than the more scientifically reliable hearing tests
Kevin Munro, professor of audiology at The University of Manchester and Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) hearing health lead, said: “There is an urgent need for a carefully conducted clinical and diagnostic study to understand the long-term effects of Covid-19 on the auditory system.
“It is also well-known that viruses such as measles, mumps and meningitis can cause hearing loss, little is understood about the auditory effects of the Sars-CoV-2 virus.
“Though this review provides further evidence for an association, the studies we looked at were of varying quality so more work needs to be done.”
Prof Munro is leading a year-long UK study to investigate the possible long-term impact of coronavirus on hearing among people who have been previously treated in hospital for the virus.
His team hopes to accurately estimate the number and severity of Covid-19 related hearing disorders in the UK, and discover what parts of the auditory system might be affected.
The new study, published in the International Journal of Audiology, was funded by the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre.
The long-term effects of coronavirus on health have been much debated throughout the pandemic.
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Some studies have claimed that even previously young and healthy people have been left with severe organ damage.
The results of the hearing study come after the UK smashed its daily record for administering coronavirus vaccines for a third consecutive day on Saturday.
A total of 844,285 combined first and second doses were given across the nation, up from 711,157 on Friday.
More than 27.6million people in the UK have now received at least one dose of the vaccine – more than half the adult population.
A slightly higher total of 873,784 was initially reported before figures from Scotland were revised down, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
But he added: “Still our RECORD day in the vaccination programme.”
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said “the equivalent of the entire adult populations of Liverpool, Southampton and Oxford combined” had been vaccinated on Saturday.
More than 2.2million people in the UK have now been fully vaccinated, according to official figures.