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Dizziness and COVID-19

Dana Tress 
May 1, 2021
Dizziness and COVID-19

We know.  It has been an exhausting 15 months because of the pandemic and the spread of COVID-19.  As time goes on, we are learning more and are beginning to see trends of additional symptoms related to this particular virus.  A cluster of these symptoms is becoming more noticeable in the vestibular world, including here at the Balance + Concussion Center.  We are beginning to see individuals who are experiencing hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo, brain fog and dizziness.  Because we are seeing an increased amount of patients with these post-COVID symptoms, we thought it would be important to share the latest updates on these complications.

It is estimated that 15% of adults that have COVID-19 develop auditory (hearing) and/or vestibular (balance) symptoms including:  ringing in the ears (tinnitus), hearing loss and vertigo.  While it is not known for sure, researchers believe the possible cause for these symptoms could be:

  1. Direct viral infection of the organs of the inner ear OR of the nerve that carries signals from the hearing and balance centers of the inner ear to the brain
  2. Autoimmune attack by antibodies or immune cells that cause inflammatory changes in the nerves of the inner ear
  3. Blood clots that block blood flow to the hearing and/or vestibular organs of the inner ear, depriving them of oxygen and damaging them temporarily or permanently
  4. A worsening of a pre-existing condition that was very mild prior to being infected with COVID-19

There remains a greater mystery around “brain fog” symptoms in which COVID-19 “long haulers” describe difficulty with memory, concentration and performing executive tasks.  This is still being investigated to look at theories of brain fog causes, including abnormal inflammation in the brain, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, and circulatory problems in the brain.

While there is still a lot of mystery surrounding these, and many other, symptoms of COVID-19, the exciting part is that we continue to learn more about this illness, which leads us to proper treatments.  If you are experiencing any long-hauler symptoms of COVID-19, such as dizziness, discuss these with your healthcare provider.  Perhaps vestibular rehabilitation would benefit you, like it has our other clients at the Balance + Concussion Center!

Meet the Author
Dana Tress, PT, CEAS, AIB-CON is a physical therapist specializing in the management of concussion, balance dysfunction, headaches and dizziness in Crystal Lake, Illinois at Smith Physical Therapy Balance + Concussion Center, an award winner in concierge physical therapy services for McHenry County and surrounding regions.