Tinnitus & the COVID Vaccine

Sep 19, 2022

The COVID-19 virus took the world by storm these past few years causing complications with the respiratory system, but it can also cause other complications and side effects. Tinnitus can be a side effect not only from the COVID-19 virus but also from the vaccine for COVID. Although this side effect is not common, if tinnitus is experienced it can reduce the quality of life.

Brain Therapy TMS, offers transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy as a treatment for tinnitus. TMS can be seen as an alternative treatment for several medical conditions and mental health disorders. TMS does not require the use of medications or sedatives and has minimal side effects.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a medical term used to describe a person hearing noises without external cause. These noises are reported as ringing, buzzing, roaring, whistling, chirping, or hissing. It is most commonly referred to as a ringing in the ears.

Tinnitus can be heard in either one or both ears. It can be constant or intermittent. For some who have developed tinnitus, the sound seems to travel from ear to ear. It is estimated that approximately 25 million Americans have reported experiencing this phenomenon for at least 5 minutes in the past year, while 16 million sought medical attention for it. 

There are two types of tinnitus: objective tinnitus and subjective tinnitus. The most common of the two is objective tinnitus, where the patient is the only one to hear the noises. Subjective tinnitus is rare; the patient and examiner can listen to the sounds. 

Conditions With Tinnitus as a Symptom

Tinnitus is more prevalent in the older population as it is a common component of age-related hearing loss. It is typically the symptom of a medical condition, including: 

  • Age-related hearing loss. This affects an estimated one in three people over the age of 65. 
  • Exposure to explosions or other loud noises. Tinnitus from exposure to loud noises can come after a single event or through constant access to loud noises over time.
  • Ototoxic medications. There are a large number of medications that can have adverse effects on your ears. 
  • Meniere’s disease. This is a chronic disorder of the ears which affects your balance and 
  • TMJ disorders. TMJ is caused by the irritation or inflammation of the temporomandibular joint. 
  • Excessive earwax buildup. When there is a buildup of ear wax, your ears can become blocked.
  • Foreign objects lodged in the ears. Often, a foreign object can cause your eardrum to rupture.
  • Allergies. Some allergies can cause congestion of the eustachian tube.
  • Ear or sinus infection. Ear or sinus infections can also cause congestion and a build-up of pressure in the eustachian tube.
  • Brain tumors. Brain tumors can affect the nerves that connect your brain to your hearing.
  • Heart or vascular disease. Some heart conditions can cause the blood to flow through the veins more forcefully.
  • Abnormal thyroid. Many people with hyperthyroidism report tinnitus.
  • Hormonal changes. Hormonal changes associated with menopause can result in tinnitus.
  • Stress. No matter what is causing tinnitus, stress seems to make it worse.

COVID & Tinnitus

Many people affected by COVID will only suffer the respiratory effects of the infection. However, some patients can suffer extensive neurological damage in the central or peripheral nervous systems. As time passes, there are increasing reports of hearing loss associated with neurological damage in some COVID patients. Since not all COVID patients suffer neurological damage, the effects on hearing are often not discovered until after the patient has recovered from COVID.  

Studies on the connection between COVID and tinnitus are still early. Reports from the American Tinnitus Association indicate that individuals with COVID report increased tinnitus with stress and depression. 

COVID Vaccine & Tinnitus

Due to the severity of the COVID-19 virus, vaccinations were pushed through testing more quickly than usual. These vaccinations have proven effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus. However, studying the after-effects of the vaccine itself did not begin until recently.  

Studies focused on the effect of the COVID-19 vaccine on the ears have shown that many COVID patients complain of tinnitus following a COVID vaccination or booster shot. Of the 5.5 billion vaccines given, there have been approximately 12,247 reported cases of tinnitus following vaccinations. The onset of tinnitus was reported about 5 hours after the vaccination was administered. 

Treatment of Tinnitus

The most common treatment for tinnitus that occurs post-vaccine is corticosteroids. It has been reported to be effective for approximately three out of every five people. Another treatment for post-vaccine tinnitus is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

TMS therapy is a non-invasive procedure where magnetic fields are introduced to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. This therapy is used to reduce symptoms of depression. It is usually only used when patients have failed to respond to other treatments for depression. 

TMS For Tinnitus

TMS procedure introduces magnetic pulses to the brain to stimulate areas of the brain that are believed to have decreased activity due to depression. Studies show that when the TMS pulses are set at 30, they relieve tinnitus symptoms. TMS is considered to be safe, but there have been reports of various side effects, including:

  • Headaches.
  • Minor discomfort of the scalp where the TMS was administered.
  • Spasms, twitching, or tingling of facial muscles.
  • Feeling lightheaded.

While rare, there have also been more serious side effects, such as:

  • Seizures
  • Hearing loss
  • Mania in bipolar patients.

It is still unknown if there are any long-term side effects from TMS. Most of the side effects can be reduced with adjustments to the stimulation level. Most of these reported side effects are short-term side effects. 

TMS is shown to be effective for post-vaccine tinnitus because it decreases inflammation in the temporal bone. This is similar to the anti-inflammatory properties of corticosteroid treatment. Treating the inflammation is only a small part of treating tinnitus, as the condition is still somewhat of a mystery. Every person who suffers symptoms of tinnitus reports different intensities of symptoms and the extent of the condition’s effect on their ability to perform daily activities.

Help with COVID or COVID Vaccine Tinnitus

In the San Diego area, your first choice for TMS therapy is Brain Therapy TMS. You can expect a customized treatment plan for your unique needs at Brain Therapy TMS. Each patient is evaluated with considerations as to previous experiences with TMS therapy. 

As well as any contributing physical or mental conditions, and other factors. Since TMS works differently for each patient, Brain Therapy TMS conducts brain mapping and assessments to determine the best plan for each patient’s needs.  Contact Brain Therapy TMS today for a free consultation.

Considering TMS Treatment? Schedule a Consultation!

Tired of the results you’re getting from your standard treatment? Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation may be able to increase your chances of long-term remission, reducing your symptoms and allowing you to live a more joyful life.

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