Background: Although a direct relationship between tinnitus or hearing difficulties and COVID-19 has been suggested, current literature provides inconsistent results, and no research has been undertaken in older adults. Methods: In November 2020, we conducted the LOST in Lombardia survey, a telephone-based cross-sectional study on a sample of 4,400 individuals representative of the general population aged ≥65 years from Lombardy region, Northern Italy. Individuals with diagnosed tinnitus and/or hearing loss were asked whether their conditions had improved or deteriorated in 2020 compared to 2019. Results: Overall, 8.1% of older adults reported a diagnosis of tinnitus and 10.5% of hearing loss. In 2020 compared to 2019, among individuals with tinnitus, those with increasing severity (5.0%) were similar to those decreasing it (5.3%). Among individuals with hearing loss, more people reported an increase (13.6%) than a decrease (3.2%) in their disease severity. No individual with a diagnosis in 2020 of tinnitus (n = 6) or hearing loss (n = 13) had COVID-19. The incidence of tinnitus was lower in 2020 (rate: 14.8 per 10,000 person-years) than in previous years (rate in 1990-2019: 36.0 per 10,000 person-years; p = 0.026). There was no change in the incidence of hearing loss (p = 0.134). Conclusions: In this large representative sample of older adults, on average neither COVID-19 confinement nor SARS-CoV-2 infection appeared to increase the severity or incidence of tinnitus. The increased severity of hearing difficulties may totally or partially be explained by physiologic deterioration of the condition, or by a misperception due to the use of face-masks.

The Impact of COVID-19 Confinement on Tinnitus and Hearing Loss in Older Adults: Data From the LOST in Lombardia Study

Iacoviello, Licia;
2022-01-01

Abstract

Background: Although a direct relationship between tinnitus or hearing difficulties and COVID-19 has been suggested, current literature provides inconsistent results, and no research has been undertaken in older adults. Methods: In November 2020, we conducted the LOST in Lombardia survey, a telephone-based cross-sectional study on a sample of 4,400 individuals representative of the general population aged ≥65 years from Lombardy region, Northern Italy. Individuals with diagnosed tinnitus and/or hearing loss were asked whether their conditions had improved or deteriorated in 2020 compared to 2019. Results: Overall, 8.1% of older adults reported a diagnosis of tinnitus and 10.5% of hearing loss. In 2020 compared to 2019, among individuals with tinnitus, those with increasing severity (5.0%) were similar to those decreasing it (5.3%). Among individuals with hearing loss, more people reported an increase (13.6%) than a decrease (3.2%) in their disease severity. No individual with a diagnosis in 2020 of tinnitus (n = 6) or hearing loss (n = 13) had COVID-19. The incidence of tinnitus was lower in 2020 (rate: 14.8 per 10,000 person-years) than in previous years (rate in 1990-2019: 36.0 per 10,000 person-years; p = 0.026). There was no change in the incidence of hearing loss (p = 0.134). Conclusions: In this large representative sample of older adults, on average neither COVID-19 confinement nor SARS-CoV-2 infection appeared to increase the severity or incidence of tinnitus. The increased severity of hearing difficulties may totally or partially be explained by physiologic deterioration of the condition, or by a misperception due to the use of face-masks.
2022
COVID-19; cross-sectional study; hearing loss; older adults; tinnitus
Jarach, Carlotta Micaela; Lugo, Alessandra; Stival, Chiara; Bosetti, Cristina; Amerio, Andrea; Cavalieri d'Oro, Luca; Iacoviello, Licia; Odone, Anna; Stuckler, David; Zucchi, Alberto; van den Brandt, Piet; Garavello, Werner; Cederroth, Christopher R; Schlee, Winfried; Gallus, Silvano
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11383/2132094
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