The coronavirus could infect the inner ear

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COVID-19 it may be able to infect the inner ear and cause hearing and balance problems.

A. published study in Communications medicine examined 10 patients from Massachusetts eye and ear who had hearing problems, such as hearing loss and tinnitus, and who tested positive for the coronavirus. Study co-host Konstantina Stankovic, who was working with hearing impaired patients, said: “At the time it was not very clear whether this was related to cause or coincidence, why hearing loss and tinnitus they are so common. “

Possible pathways to the inner ear include a tube from the nose to the ear where the virus could travel, or through small openings in the nerves that would allow the virus “to enter the brain space and infect the cranial nerves,” including those leading to the inner ear, says the study.

The researchers developed models of various cells in the inner ear and found that the virus was capable of infecting two types of cells, one of which helps to “sense head movement and maintain balance,” they report.

“Having the models is the first step, and this work now opens up a path to work with. . . other viruses that affect hearing, “said Lee Gehrke, the study’s other co-star. The researchers also said the models could help test future possible inner ear treatments for various viral infections.

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