COVID-19 may cause some people to experience tinnitus. However, scientists are still investigating the exact link between the two. Researchers have also investigated if COVID-19 vaccines cause tinnitus.

People with tinnitus hear sounds inside their ear, such as ringing or buzzing. These sounds may come and go.

This article discusses whether COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccines can cause tinnitus.

It also looks at other possible causes of tinnitus, symptoms, treatments, and more.

Coronavirus data

All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on COVID-19.

Was this helpful?
There is a collage representing tinnitus and COVID-19.Share on Pinterest
Design by MNT; Photography by PeopleImages/Getty Images & Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images

Scientists have investigated in several studies whether COVID-19 causes tinnitus. Although some people who have COVID-19 may develop tinnitus, scientists don’t know yet exactly why this happens.

A 2021 study reviewed and analyzed scientific publications regarding COVID-19 and tinnitus. They concluded that although people may have tinnitus after having COVID-19, it is not clear if COVID-19 directly causes tinnitus.

They suggest that the additional stress and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic may make a person’s tinnitus worse. They could not determine if COVID-19 is a direct cause of tinnitus.

Another 2021 study by audiologists found that an estimated 15% of people with COVID-19 reported developing tinnitus.

Another 2021 review of studies found that 4.5% of people with COVID-19 developed tinnitus. These researchers concluded that COVID-19 may cause tinnitus.

However, they also pointed out that the data in the studies did not give a high level of evidence, and people should interpret it cautiously. They also concluded that stress and anxiety may play a part in causing tinnitus rather than COVID-19 itself.

Scientists have investigated links between tinnitus and COVID-19 vaccines.

One 2022 study analyzed data for 2,575,235 people without any history of tinnitus. Only 0.038% of these people had a new tinnitus diagnosis within 21 days of receiving the first dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

The author of the study concluded that the risk of tinnitus from the COVID-19 vaccine is very low. They also noted that other vaccines had a higher tinnitus risk.

The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) states that COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause tinnitus. Trials of vaccines also did not find tinnitus as a side effect. However, it notes that some stress or anxiety factors that people may associate with vaccination can make tinnitus more intrusive.

A 2023 study investigated tinnitus among 1,254 people who received COVID-19 vaccinations over 13 months. The authors of the report stated they could find no definite correlations between COVID-19 vaccines and tinnitus.

Learn about the possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Most people with tinnitus have subjective symptoms. This means only they can hear it.

The symptoms of tinnitus can vary from person to person. People with tinnitus hear sounds in one or both ears that can:

  • come and go
  • be present all the time
  • be soft or loud
  • be low- or high-pitched

These sounds can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • ringing
  • buzzing
  • roaring
  • whistling
  • humming
  • clicking
  • hissing
  • squealing

Tinnitus may last for several days after a person has COVID-19, but possibly months.

Studies in 2020 and 2021 both found that new cases of tinnitus after COVID-19 tended to last for a number of days.

However, a different 2021 study found that people with long COVID could have tinnitus for a number of months.

It is best to contact a doctor if a person experiences ongoing symptoms of tinnitus.

Learn about the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Scientists have linked developing tinnitus with some common risk factors. These include:

  • exposure to loud noise, such as loud workplace noise, concerts, or sporting events
  • hearing loss due to aging
  • side effects of some medications, especially if taken at high doses
  • blockage of a person’s ear canal from earwax or an ear infection
  • head or neck injuries

People may also develop tinnitus for no known reason.

There are no specific tinnitus medications. No current dietary supplements are medically effective against tinnitus.

However, doctors may recommend some treatments to lessen the impact of a person’s tinnitus. These can include:

  • sound therapy, which involves using exposure to sounds to help people adjust to tinnitus
  • behavioral therapy, which involves learning techniques to help reduce the impact on a person’s life
  • medication, which may help improve sleep or mood

Learn about natural remedies for tinnitus.

To assist with diagnosing tinnitus, a doctor may first check a person’s ear canal for blockages and carry out a physical exam of the head, neck, and ears. They may ask the person about their medical history and medication use. This can help to check for any underlying cause of tinnitus symptoms.

In some cases, such as if a doctor suspects pulsatile tinnitus or if other symptoms accompany tinnitus, imaging tests can help to check for possible causes of tinnitus. These include:

A person’s doctor can advise on any tests they order and answer any questions about what they involve.

COVID-19 may cause people to develop tinnitus. However, scientists are still investigating the exact reason for this. Tinnitus may last for days, weeks, or months after a person has COVID-19.

Researchers have found no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause tinnitus.

It is best for a person to contact their doctor if they are experiencing symptoms of tinnitus. They will be able to confirm the diagnosis and advise on steps a person can take to manage their symptoms.