While more studies with larger numbers of participants are needed to say for sure, there does seem to be a connection between coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and tinnitus.

One study found that 23.2% of individuals experienced tinnitus after their COVID-19 diagnosis, most commonly described as recurrent or occasional. It was suggested that this may be due to inflammation of the blood vessels supplying the inner ear. Another study found that 40% of individuals with preexisting tinnitus felt that their tinnitus was exacerbated after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. It was suggested that the lifestyle changes brought on by COVID-19 illness—quieter environments, social isolation, depression, and anxiety—may be more to blame than the COVID-19 infection itself.

As of right now, no studies have found new or exacerbated tinnitus to be a significant side effect of any COVID-19 vaccines. One study reported that about one in 14,700 people reported tinnitus after vaccination. These individuals had other risk factors that are associated with tinnitus such as hypertension, diabetes, and anxiety. It was suggested that their tinnitus was likely due to one of these conditions, vaccine anxiety, and/or another unrelated event. It should be noted that some of these studies are small and more information is needed as new vaccines and boosters are released.

While there are still many questions about the tinnitus/COVID connection, no one should have to suffer in silence with their tinnitus. The good news is that no matter the cause, many effective treatment options are available, and the Eckelmann-Taylor Speech and Hearing Clinic’s specialized Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Clinic can help!