Is There A Link Between COVID Vaccines And Tinnitus?

In 2021, a potential link between COVID-19 vaccines and the development of tinnitus was brought to the public's attention via the World Health Organization (WHO) Pharmaceutical Newsletter after 164 case safety reports involving hearing loss were identified across ten countries. As of last week, that number has since climbed in the U.S. to more than 16,000 claims reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the development of tinnitus following vaccination, reports NBC News.

First created in March 2021, a Facebook group that has now grown to include more than 4,000 members is dedicated to those who have experienced the onset of tinnitus or worsening of the condition after receiving the shot. Addressing these claims, a CDC representative told NBC News that they have found no proof of a connection between tinnitus and the vaccines. However, some experts feel these reports warrant further investigation and should not be dismissed.

Potential risk factors for tinnitus

One such expert is Shaowen Bao, an associate professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson, College of Medicine, reports NBC News. Sitting on the scientific advisory board of the American Tinnitus Association, Bao himself has both experienced, and researched, tinnitus for many years. Bao surveyed nearly 400 members of the Facebook group. While no definitive claims can yet be made, Bao tells the news outlet that his research findings suggest a possible influence of COVID vaccines on pre-existing risk factors for tinnitus, potentially due to continued inflammation.

While the occasional bout of tinnitus from time to time is not considered abnormal, ongoing cases of tinnitus can impact one's quality of life. Symptoms of tinnitus can take the form of ringing, buzzing, whistling, humming, and more, according to Penn Medicine. Usually, cases of tinnitus are subjective, meaning that the noise is heard even though there is no external sound being made. Ear infections, eustachian tube issues, diabetes, thyroid conditions, head injury, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) are all risk factors that may increase one's susceptibility to tinnitus.

At this time, a possible correlation between vaccination and tinnitus is still the subject of study.