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COVID-19 could be causing your ears to ring. Here’s what we know. – Global News

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Matthew Willis hasn’t enjoyed a moment of peace and quiet since catching COVID-19 in November.

“It’s a sort of very high-pitched kind of … whistle or just a tone,” the 42-year-old explained to Global News. “And there’s a bit of … white noise behind it.”

Willis’s condition is known as tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ears. It’s believed to have a range of causes, from infection, head injury and hearing loss to certain medications and even stress.

But some research is also linking it to COVID-19.


Matthew Willis, tinnitus patient, with his dog Nikolai.


Deborah Hastie

What is tinnitus’s connection to COVID-19?

Tinnitus affects an estimated 37 per cent of Canadians, according to a Statistics Canada report from 2019.

Earlier this year, a group of researchers found almost 15 per cent of COVID-19 patients surveyed complained of it but noted the number could be an over-estimate “because it was not always clear that studies report a change in symptom.”

Read more:

Long COVID — Almost a third of people report lingering symptoms, study finds

Rex Banks, director of Audiology at Canadian Hearing Services, said he’s heard the post-virus tinnitus complaints and explained the possible reasons.

There’s the possibility, Banks said, the white noise may have always been there but pandemic-related stress or even isolation could intensify it.

“During the pandemic, people are spending more time alone, for example, they may be spending more time in silence, meaning that they may become more aware of their tinnitus,” Banks said but added there is another theory.

Read more:

‘It is a parallel pandemic’ — What loneliness does to our mental health

“It could be that in fact, the vaccine or COVID is sort of triggering (these) inner hair cells to exacerbate their existing tinnitus. Just like it’s affecting smell or taste,” the audiologist told Global News.

Over the last year, scientists have studied the inner ears of both humans and mice. They found the coronavirus does have the ability to infect some of the cells, which can cause problems with hearing and balance.

COVID-19 vaccines and tinnitus

As for the COVID-19 vaccine, there have been thousands of post-shot reports of tinnitus around the world, including six cases in Johnson and Johnson’s own COVID-19 vaccine trials.

A recent study published this month noted that “the precise mechanism behind vaccine-induced tinnitus remains undetermined, leaving room for future studies.”

But experts have made it clear: the ramification is rare and protection from severe illness and hospitalization outweighs the risk.

Read more:

Why all COVID-19 vaccine side effects matter, not just the serious ones

Teresa Huff has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with the mRNA Moderna shot.

Amid the Omicron wave, like so many, the Eastport, Long Island resident caught what she calls a “mild” case of the virus.

It’s what she’s experienced post-infection that has her searching for answers.

“I noticed it the first week of February,” the 53-year-old said. “It’s like a whooshing white noise, occasionally there might be a ringing sound.”

Huff said her tinnitus is worse at night and it’s interrupting her ability to fall asleep.

“It’s definitely something I’m hyper-aware of now, and it seems to be getting louder and louder,” she said.


Teresa Huff suffers from post-COVID-19 tinnitus.

Meanwhile, Willis, who is boosted, said he thought his tinnitus would fade, like the rest of his COVID-19 symptoms.

“I have to find ways to try and concentrate, and I’m not fixating on the on the on the sound the whole time,” the Southampton, England resident told Global News via Zoom.

Treating tinnitus

There is no cure for tinnitus, according to Banks, but some medical experts have reported successfully treating suspected vaccine-induced tinnitus with corticosteroids.

Banks said managing the constant noise is possible and that the first step is to rule out any underlying health conditions.

“Hearing loss would be one of the first things we want to address,” Banks told Global News.

“Many people benefit from wearing a hearing aid because that will give your auditory system something else to listen to besides the tinnitus. But beyond that, it is frustrating.”

Experts also suggest cognitive behavioural therapy or tinnitus retraining therapy, which use counselling and sound therapy together to train your subconscious to ignore the hum.

“Try to avoid silence because when you are alone, this is when you’re going to hear your tinnitus more,” Banks explained.

Huff said she recently tried the sound of crickets to get her to sleep, “but I just eventually end turning that off because (it’s) one noise replacing another noise.”

While Huff said she is certainly annoyed by the symptom, she knows she will have to learn to live with it.

“We just have to adapt like everything else lately,” she said. “We just have to move forward and adapt.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Medical Officer of Health gives monkeypox update – North Bay News – BayToday.ca

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The local medical officer of health for the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is urging calm when it comes to the monkeypox outbreak that has reached Canada.

The multi-country outbreak of monkeypox — a rare disease that comes from the same family of viruses that causes smallpox — has been active since early May.

As of Wednesday, a total of 219 confirmed cases have been reported worldwide. Most of the cases have been detected in young men, who self-identify as men who have sex with men (MSM). Of those, there are 118 confirmed cases reported from 12 EU/EEA Member States.

According to Dr. Michael Head, a senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton (UK), “Monkeypox, as the name suggests, was first found in laboratory monkeys in the late 1950s. However, scientists aren’t sure if monkeys are the main animal reservoirs (carriers of the virus), so the name may be a bit of a misnomer. The latest thinking is that the main reservoir is probably smaller animals, such as rodents.”

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) observes this is the first time chains of monkeypox transmission have been reported in Europe without known epidemiological links to West or Central Africa.

There are 16 confirmed cases in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, all in Quebec. 

Although the “risk posed by monkeypox is low, nearly everyone in Canada is susceptible because routine vaccination against smallpox ended decades ago,” PHAC officials said late last week in this CP report stating Canada is considering using a reserve of smallpox vaccine for monkeypox cases.

“Let’s look at the risk and put it into perspective,” says Dr. Jim Chirico following Wednesday’s Board of Health meeting. “The overall risk to the general public is very, very low.”

“Monkeypox (MPX) does not spread easily between people. Human-to-human transmission occurs through close contact with infectious material from skin lesions of an infected person, through respiratory droplets in prolonged face-to-face contact, and through fomites (such as contaminated clothes, towels or furniture). The predominance, in the current outbreak, of diagnosed human MPX cases is among men having sex with men (MSM), and the nature of the presenting lesions in some cases, suggests transmission occurred during sexual intercourse,” according to an ECDC risk assessment

The virus is spread through close contact between people, especially in the same household, including the sexual route, advises ECDC. Based on its epidemiological assessment, “the likelihood of MPX spreading in persons having multiple sexual partners in the EU/EEA is considered high.”

Being aware of the signs and symptoms is the most important part, says Chirico “but most cases are very mild and besides treatment for the symptoms, nothing else is usually required and most people do not end up in the hospital. It’s limited. In two to four weeks, it’s over.”

The monkeypox virus may cause severe disease in certain population groups, such as young children, pregnant women, and immunosuppressed persons.

“Although most cases in current outbreaks have presented with mild disease symptoms,” notes the ECDC risk assessment, “the likelihood of cases with severe morbidity cannot be accurately estimated yet. The overall risk is assessed as moderate for persons having multiple sexual partners (including some groups of MSM) and low for the broader population.”

Chirico advises local residents to “be aware of the signs and symptoms of monkeypox. Initially, they are similar to the flu, where you might have a headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, maybe back pain, and fatigue. You can also experience sweating and the other important thing to note are any lumps and bumps, like lymph nodes that are increasing.”

About one to three days following the onset of symptoms, a rash may appear — and it may appear on the face and go to the rest of the body. In about 75 per cent of the cases, it will be on the hands and feet, he says.

A personal risk assessment of monkeypox infection is also important, says Dr. Chirico. “Sexual contacts, possible exposure to an individual diagnosed with monkeypox or an individual that is symptomatic and awaiting lab confirmation.

“If you have signs and symptoms of monkeypox, immediately isolate and arrange to be tested by your primary health care provider. And, remain in isolation until the result of your test is known. If you do test positive for monkeypox, you do need to isolate until the lesions resolve, meaning the scabs have fallen off and new skin is present.

“If you are a contact of an individual with monkeypox, you can self-monitor for symptoms for 21 days and seek medical care or testing if the symptoms present but you don’t need to quarantine if you don’t have any symptoms as a contact.”

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Montreal sauna suspected origin of Canada’s monkeypox outbreak: doctors – Global News

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Monkeypox cases in Canada are suspected to have originated from a local sauna in Montreal, doctors have told Global News.

The country’s first two cases were reported by Quebec public health officials on May 19.

Dr. Robert Pilarski, a general physician in Montreal, who treated one of those patients last week, said the individual likely got the virus from a sauna he recently visited.

“He actually got it from G.I. Joe. So this is the suspected epicentre of the epidemic,” Pilarski told Global News.

Read more:

Quebec to start vaccinating monkeypox contacts, confirms 25 cases

Another doctor, who did not wish to be identified, also said the source of Montreal’s monkeypox outbreak was Sauna G.I. Joe.

Government officials have so far stayed clear of confirming the origin of monkeypox in Canada due to concerns of privacy and stigmatization.

“As it was the case with COVID-19, we never confirm publicly outbreaks for both privacy and identification matters,” Jean Nicolas Aubé, a spokesperson for Montreal public health, told Global News in an emailed response.

“Rest assured that we always intervene directly with businesses or settings where an outbreak occurs or where our investigation could lead us,” Aube added.


Click to play video: 'Quebec confirms 25 cases of monkeypox, plans to administer vaccine'



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Quebec confirms 25 cases of monkeypox, plans to administer vaccine


Quebec confirms 25 cases of monkeypox, plans to administer vaccine

Despite multiple attempts and inquiries from Global News about health regulations and tracing measures, there was no response from Sauna G.I. Joe by the time of publication.

Recent cases of monkeypox around the world have researchers scrambling to find out how the virus is spreading in countries that typically don’t see it.

Monkeypox, a rare zoonotic infectious disease, is usually found in certain parts of Africa, where it is endemic.

Read more:

More monkeypox surveillance needed, WHO tells member countries

What started out as a small cluster of cases in Quebec is now being called a “serious outbreak” of the virus by provincial health officials.

As of Thursday, 25 cases have been confirmed in the province and about 20 to 30 suspected cases are under investigation.

The majority of confirmed cases in the province are tied to men aged between 20 and 30 years, who have had sexual relations with other men. There has been one case in a person under 18.

Monkeypox is not considered a sexually-transmitted infection, but the virus can survive on surfaces such as bedding and is transmitted through prolonged close contact.

“It’s not sexual activity as such that transmits it. It’s skin-to-skin contact that transmits it as far as we know at this moment,” said Dr. Michael Libman, a tropical disease expert and professor of medicine and infectious disease at McGill University.


Click to play video: 'Scientists trying to identify origins of Monkeypox cases detected in Canada'



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Scientists trying to identify origins of Monkeypox cases detected in Canada


Scientists trying to identify origins of Monkeypox cases detected in Canada

Stigmatization and transparency

Cases of monkeypox started emerging in Europe earlier this month.

Montreal public health said it had alerted physicians about a week before the first cases were confirmed. It also contacted “local actors” and communicated advice on hand hygiene and environmental cleaning procedures, Aubé said.

According to social media posts, Sauna G.I. Joe hosted a sex party on May 19, the same day Canada confirmed its first cases of monkeypox.

Read more:

Monkeypox likely spread through sex at 2 raves in Europe, expert suggests

During a press conference on Thursday, Quebec public health officials said they do not think it’s necessary to single out locations over fears of “stigmatization,” adding that there are now measures in place.

“The enemy is the virus, not the people affected,” said Dr. Luc Boileau, Quebec’s interim public health.

However, experts stress that there should be greater transparency and omitting key public health information can be problematic.


Click to play video: 'Monkeypox is not a sexually-transmitted infection, WHO says'



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Monkeypox is not a sexually-transmitted infection, WHO says


Monkeypox is not a sexually-transmitted infection, WHO says

David Brennan, research chair in gay and bisexual men’s health at the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), believes not disclosing information can have a negative impact on the community.

Hiding information could be interpreted as “men having sex with men is bad,” said Brennan.

There needs to be a culture shift and harm-reduction approach as has been the case in the past with sexually-transmitted infections, such as HIV/AIDS, added Nolan Hill, gay men’s health specialist at the Center for Sexuality in Calgary, Alta.

“I think it really does speak to this broader culture where we’re uncomfortable with the idea of sex and we’re uncomfortable talking about sex,” he said.


Click to play video: 'What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?'



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What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?


What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?

Outside of Quebec, only one other case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Toronto.

On Saturday, Toronto Public Health (TPH) identified two locations connected to possible cases of monkeypox: Axis Club and Woody’s bar.

Kerry Bowman, a professor of bioethics and global health at the University of Toronto, said these details matter, especially when it comes to higher risk settings.

“I would argue it is important to identify where it is coming from because if you don’t then people are not in a position to protect themselves,” he said.

Read more:

Physical distancing recommended amid monkeypox spread in Canada, Njoo says

However, disclosing that information comes with the “added responsibility” of not feeding into any prejudice, Bowman added.

Federal public health officials are working to finalize and release guidance on case identification, contact tracing, isolation as well as infection prevention and control.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says this updated guidance will be released in the next few days.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said Thursday mass vaccinations are not yet needed, but people can avoid infection by maintaining physical distance, masking and hand hygiene.


Click to play video: 'Monkeypox: 26 confirmed cases in Quebec, Ontario, officials recommend physical distancing'



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Monkeypox: 26 confirmed cases in Quebec, Ontario, officials recommend physical distancing


Monkeypox: 26 confirmed cases in Quebec, Ontario, officials recommend physical distancing

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Quebec health officials confirm 25 monkeypox cases now in province – Global News

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Quebec public health officials are reporting a total of 25 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the province as of Thursday.

Dr. Luc Boileau, interim public health director in the province, described it as a “serious outbreak” of the virus. Officials are investigating several more suspected cases.

“We had about 20 to 30 suspected cases under investigation so far,” Boileau said.

The province will also begin administering the Imvamune vaccine to close contacts of confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox as soon as Friday. A single dose will be provided within four days of exposure to the virus.

Quebec’s Health Ministry said in a statement that a second dose of the vaccine could be administered, but only if the risk of exposure is “still present 28 days later” and “only following a decision by public health authorities.”

READ MORE: Mass vaccinations for monkeypox not needed, WHO official says

Boileau said the majority of confirmed cases in the province are tied mostly to men who have had sexual relations with other men. There has been one case in a person under 18.

Last week, Quebec recorded the first cases of the virus in the country. The first suspected cases were reported on May 12 in Montreal.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that comes from the same family of viruses that causes smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated around the globe in 1980.

The virus spreads through prolonged closed contact. It can cause fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes and lesions.

— with files from Global News’ Dan Spector and the Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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