Could sudden sensorineural hearing loss be the sole manifestation of COVID-19? An investigation into SARS-COV-2 in the etiology of sudden sensorineural hearing loss

Int J Infect Dis. 2020 Aug;97:208-211. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2020.06.023. Epub 2020 Jun 12.


Objective: This study aimed to investigate the presence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in patients presenting with only sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHNL) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: The study included five male patients who presented with the sole complaint of unilateral SSNHL to the otolaryngology outpatient clinic between 03-12 April 2020. The patients were referred to the infectious diseases clinic to be evaluated for SARS-CoV-2 by real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.

Results: RT-PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 was positive in one of the patients and negative in the other four patients. A positive response to COVID-19-specific treatment in the SARS-CoV-2 positive SSNHL patient was noted.

Conclusion: It should be remembered that non-specific symptoms such as SSNHL could be the only sign with which to recognize a COVID-19 case. Awareness of such a non-specific presentation of COVID-19 patients is crucial during this pandemic period for preventing infectious spread through isolation and early initiation of COVID-19 targeted treatment.

Keywords: COVID-19; Pandemic; Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2); Sudden sensorineural hearing loss.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Betacoronavirus* / genetics
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • SARS-CoV-2