Insights into perceived listening difficulties post COVID-19 infection: no measurable hearing difficulty on clinical tests despite increased self-reported listening effort

Sara Alhanbali, Enaam Alkharabshe, Wafa’a Alanati, Khader Joudeh, Kevin Munro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The aim was to use a battery of clinic-based auditory assessment procedures to compare participants with and without self-reported hearing difficulties following a confirmed COVID-19 infection. A further aim was to compare the groups on self-reported measures of listening effort and fatigue.
Methods: There were 25 participants in each group (age range 20-59 years, 80% females). Participants were recruited after a minimum of four weeks of testing positive. Hearing assessment involved tympanometry, acoustic reflex thresholds, pure-tone audiometry (PTA; 0.25-14 kHz), and distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs; 0.5-10 kHz). Listening effort was assessed using the Arabic version of the Effort Assessment Scale (A-EAS) and fatigue was assessed using the Arabic version of the Fatigue Assessment Scale (A-FAS).
Results: There was no difference between groups on any measure except for greater self-reported listening effort in the perceived hearing difficulty group (p = 0.01).
Conclusion: The only difference between groups was self-reported listening effort. This could be due to a subclinical auditory deficit following COVID-19, increased listening effort due to the impact of COVID-19 on cognitive processes, or a psychosomatic response/ health anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2 May 2023

Keywords

  • Listening effort
  • fatigue
  • COVID-19
  • cognitive
  • sub-clinical hearing loss
  • psychological

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