Long Covid-19 can give you ENT troubles: Seek treatment before it’s too late

Long Covid-19 can have persistent symptoms, including ENT issues. If that sounds like you, get in touch with a doctor at the earliest.
long covid-19
Has Covid-19 left you with ENT troubles? Go see a doctor! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Rishi Ajay Khanna Published: 28 Sep 2021, 08:00 am IST
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Long Covid is a term used to describe the symptoms and signs that continue to persist after an acute coronavirus infection. Studies have shown that people with an initial Covid-19 infection continue to experience stuffy nose, dizziness, vertigo, hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and more. 

A study conducted by the University College London has shown that as many as 200 symptoms have affected 10 organs in those who have been suffering from long Covid-19. While the syndrome can have a deteriorating impact on any organ within the body, there has been an increasing number of people, who have been having ear, nose, and throat (ENT) problems.

long covid-19
Reduced loss of smell has been a cause of concern among people who have fought Covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Common ENT issues faced by long Covid-19 patients

The nasal, nasopharyngeal, and/or oropharyngeal tissue serve as the primary harbour sites of the Covid infection. As a result, symptoms in the upper respiratory tract include

  • Sore throat
  • Smell dysfunctions
  • Nasal congestion 

People who suffer from long Covid can also face issues in the lower respiratory system. This can lead to symptoms like:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Chest tightness
  • Cough

For those with mild Covid infection, the following symptoms are common:

  • Loss of smell (anosmia)
  • Distorted smell perception (cacosmia)
  • Reduced sense of smell (hyposmia)

In some patients, these symptoms can last for some weeks, but if they continue beyond four weeks, it is important to consult a medical practitioner.

Also, an Italian study has reported that nearly 10% of Covid-19 patients will continue to have persistent smell as well as taste symptoms, more than a month after their initial infection. Even though a majority of patients recover spontaneously without any need for medical intervention, a significant number of patients continue to show these symptoms.

Incessant facial pain and headaches can often indicate critical issues like black fungus or mucormycosis. During the second wave of the coronavirus, hospitals from different parts of India reported an increasing number of black fungus cases among Covid recovering patients. 

Also Read: Sadly, 1 in 3 covid survivors suffer from long-term health issues: Study

long covid-19
Be mindful of headaches. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
What are the treatment options available?

For patients with a loss of taste, the recovery happens within a few weeks. However, if the condition persists and impacts their quality of life in any way, medical help should be taken. 

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Also, those who experience sudden hearing loss need to consult an ENT specialist. An audiogram can be done to understand the extent of the hearing loss. Other treatment options include injecting steroids in the eardrum and IV/ oral steroids. Though recovery is unpredictable, early diagnosis and treatment improve the prognosis.

Smell dysfunctions such as hyposmia and anosmia are self-limiting conditions, and therefore, a majority of patients usually recover within four weeks. The reason is that Covid-19 infection doesn’t cause any damage to the olfactory neurons but affects the supporting cells. Once the coronavirus is out of the system, the supporting cells return to normal, and the sense of smell comes back.

For patients affected with black fungus or mucormycosis, early diagnosis is crucial as the condition can be treated with antifungal medicines. Surgery can also be performed to treat the condition in case the condition of the patient becomes critical.

long covid-19
Get vaccinated, and stay protected against Covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
The bottom line

Basically, treatment procedures vary from one patient to the other, and it is recommended that patients do not self-medicate. It is important to understand long Covid-19 issues and report them immediately to specialists if the conditions persist beyond a certain time frame. Timely intervention helps patients to recover quickly and saves them from anxiety issues.  

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About the Author

Dr Rishi Ajay Khanna, MS ENT, Curewell Hospital, Indore, Medical Consultant – ENTOD Pharmaceuticals ...Read More

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