Do you hear that? New coronavirus symptom reported – how to respond if you notice it

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Coronavirus appears to be running rampant in the UK again, prompting the UK government to take decisive action. Broad swathes of England, including London, are being upgraded to “tier 2” by Midnight – part of Downing Street’s action plan that involves enforcing tougher restrictions in high-risk areas. Amid the snowballing situation, it is more important than ever to spot the warning signs and self-isolate if you have them.

What has become manifestly clear from research is that COVID-19 – a viral disease that has spawned from SARS-CoV- 2 – can produce an array of symptoms.

Yet the NHS has come under repeated criticism for only highlighting three symptoms, which makes it an outlier amongst other health bodies.

According to the NHS, the main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

“Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms,” says the health body.

A range of other COVID-19 symptoms have been identified in research, however, such as skin changes.

To emphasise the point, this week a new symptom has been officially reported in the British Medical Journal.

Writing in the journal, experts at University College London documented the case of a 45-year-old man with asthma who was admitted to intensive care with COVID-19, ventilated, and given drugs including the antiviral remdesivir and intravenous steroids.

A week after leaving intensive care he developed a ringing sound – tinnitus – and then hearing loss in his left ear.

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The case is the first such incident to be reported in the UK, although the finding is consistent with reports from other countries.

Commenting on the findings, Gordon Harrison, Specsavers chief audiologist said: “As the months go on and we’re starting to learn more about the Coronavirus, research has shown that in some cases people who have contracted the virus are suffering from hearing loss.

“While it is rare, it is so important that those who notice any changes in their hearing, including a ringing sensation such as tinnitus, highlight it as soon as possible so help can be given.

“Likewise, those in hospital should also be asked about their hearing so early intervention can take place for those experiencing problems.”

Gordon added: “As the weather continues to change and become colder it is also important for everyone to keep on top of any changes they notice in your ears – not only to protect their hearing but as it could also be a sign of another underlying condition.

“As our ears can also be affected when we’re run down with cold or flu, in some rarer COVID-19 cases, people have also experienced symptoms of ears feeling ‘full’ or like they need to pop. This is because of increased pressure inside the middle ear due to congestion which can result in muffled hearing or earache.”

As Gordon pointed out, if you’re not experiencing other symptoms associated with coronavirus such as a fever and cough, then it is unlikely ear discomfort is caused by the virus.

“If you are concerned about your hearing, always speak to your audiologist and if other Covid-19 symptoms are also present you must follow the government guidelines on self-isolation and call 111.”

How should I respond to the main symptoms of COVID-19?

If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), UK health advice says to get a test as soon as possible.

Stay at home and do not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.

Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also stay at home until you get your result.

A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from one other household.

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