The ear, nose, and throat all are interconnected to one another. As coronavirus resides in the nose or throat, the COVID-19 may cause an ear infection but that’s not true! People may get confused between an ear infection and coronavirus infection as they both share similar symptoms like headache and fever. But it shall be noted that COVID-19 does not share a lot of common symptoms with ear infections. One can differentiate between the two infections by having a closer look at their unique symptoms.
Here’s the basic guide to differentiate between the two.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease) is an infectious respiratory illness caused by a newly discovered strain of coronavirus. It is generally associated with symptoms like fever, dry cough, and fatigue. Most affected people are those who are aged or have been suffering from underlying health issues like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer.
In most cases, COVID-19 patients experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and can recover without special medical assistance. About 80% of the people, who develop symptoms, recover from the infection without going to the hospital by quarantining themselves and taking medications to relieve their symptoms. About15% of corona patients can become seriously ill and would need oxygen. Rest 5% can be critically ill and require ventilation and intensive care.
COVID-19 can spread through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Its spread can be prevented or slowed down by taking some precautionary steps like the practice of respiratory etiquette (i.e. coughing into a flexed elbow), frequent washing of hands, use of sanitizer (an alcohol-based rub), social distancing, not touching of the face, and wearing of face masks.
Doctors usually recommend patients seek prompt medical care when they have a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, angina, and loss of speech or movement. In severe or critical cases, certain complications may arise that could lead to patient death. These include acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), respiratory failure, multi-organ collapse i.e. injury of the heart, liver, or kidneys, thromboembolism, and sepsis or septic shock.
Some of the less common symptoms that can be found in few COVID-19 patients include, headache, confusion, irritability, disturbed sleep, anxiety, depression, neurological complications like strokes, nerve damage, or brain inflammation, loss of smell or taste, congested nose, conjunctivitis (or red eyes), sore throat, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, skin rash, abnormal bowel movement, and joint or muscle pain.
In severe COVID-19 cases, the symptoms could be:
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Elevated body temperature
An ear infection (also referred to as otitis media) occurs when some fluids get accumulated behind the eardrum and become infected. The contaminated fluids are usually collected due to a previous cold, flu, or upper respiratory tract infection. Most affected people are the small children that are aged between 6 to 36 months, although it can be found in others as well. An ear infection is generally associated with pressure and pain because of the build-up of pus or mucus behind the eardrum. Based on which part of the ear is infected, the symptoms may vary.
The most common symptoms of middle ear infections in adults are:
- Ear pain
- A feeling of fullness inside the ear
- Draining of fluids from the ear
- Hearing loss
Ear pain and ear pressure are not included among the symptoms of COVID-19. However, there might be some ear problems caused by COVID-19 due to secondary inflammations of the pharynx, paranasal sinuses, or eustachian tube (a link between middle ear and nasopharynx).
COVID-19 may be associated with a variety of symptoms. Some COVID-19 patients may be suffering from ear-related issues including earwax build-up, infection, tinnitus, or even a change in ear pressure. But otitis media is not one of the known manifestations of COVID-19, making it unlikely that coronavirus can result in ear infections.
It is important to consult a healthcare professional if one experiences any medical symptom, emergency or health concern.