Decoding Long Covid: ENT Explains Why Patients Can Have Hearing Loss, Headaches After Recovery

·2-min read
Decoding Long COVID
Decoding Long COVID

As we reach what seems to be the end of the deadly second wave of Covid-19 in India, several recovering patients stare at a long haul of dealing with persisting symptoms — now being defined as 'long Covid' by doctors. In light of the situation, News18 will run a 15-day series 'Decoding Long Covid' where doctors with different specialisations will address concerns, recommend ways to deal with them, and suggest when to seek help.

In today's column, Dr KK Handa, chairman of ENT and head and neck surgery at Medanta hospital talks about how long Covid impacts hearing abilities and cause respiratory tract infection.

Dr Handa explained that some of the most common long Covid symptoms are sore throat and stuffy or runny nose. Some patients also complain about the loss of smell. In a few cases, upper respiratory tract infection and enlarged tonsil have also been observed. There are few cases where patients have experienced hearing loss and other hearing problems like ringing in the ears.

"The most dangerous one, however, is a headache. One has to be cautious because a headache can just be a symptom of long covid, or it can indicate a deeper problem, like black fungus," said the doctor.

Post recovery, the gravest problem in Covid-19 patients is mucormycosis or black fungus. "It is becoming a small epidemic within a pandemic. Before coronavirus arrived, I would hardly see one case of black fungus in a month. However, during the first wave, I started seeing one case per week, and now there are 20 to 25 cases per day," said Dr Handa.

The reason we see this is obviously uncontrolled diabetes, higher doses and more prolonged use of steroids, something in the pathogenicity of the fungus. "This fungus invades the blood vessels and causes gangrene of the distal parts. It starts from the low sinuses and then goes to the brain," said the doctor.

"Treatment has to be very aggressive and immediate, and we use anti-fungal during it. Early detection is very crucial because sinuses can be cleaned endoscopically, and if the patient is lucky, there is no need to remove them. But, if it affects the eyes and the vision is gone, then it entails eye removal so that it doesn't spread to the brain. The mortality in such cases is 80 per cent," he concluded.

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