Assessment of the long-term auditory and vestibular function in hospitalized and non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients

Grant Award: $99,924

Principal Investigator: Navid Shahnaz, PhD
Institution: University of British Columbia
Co-Investigator: May Elbar, PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia
Collaborator: Eytan David, BSc MD FRCSC, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Project Summary

There is an urgent need to investigate COVID-19’s long-term effects on hearing and balance systems. In a previously published study, the estimated prevalence of hearing loss in post-COVID-19 patients is 3.68%, ringing at 9.62%, and vertigo at 2.4%.  However, these prevalence estimates are based on subjective questionnaires, which may not capture the full extent of hearing loss in the post- COVID-19 population. Previous research has shown that questionnaires are not accurately predicting hearing loss as measured by standard test batteries.

The primary aim of our project is to compare the severity of COVID-19's impact on the hearing and vestibular organs between hospitalized and non- hospitalized participants.  The secondary objective of this project is to compare the prevalence of hearing and balance in the COVID groups to the general population prevalence data obtained before the COVID pandemic, where applicable. The hospitalized group will consist of patients with a history of COVID-19 infection and hospitalized due to COVID-19. The non-hospitalized groups will include all participants with a history of COVID-19 infection and no history of hospitalization due to COVID-19. We will assess hearing and balance systems using comprehensive subjective and objective methods.

Uncompensated hearing loss can affect cognitive function.  Vestibular impairment increases the risk of falls. This project will allow us to estimate the true impact of the virus on hearing and balance, leading to the recommendation of early intervention and management of hearing and balance impairments in individuals with a history of COVID-19, and preventing further complications associated with delayed treatment.

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