Study explores new-onset tinnitus after COVID-19 vaccination

In a recent study published in The Laryngoscope, researchers assessed the incidence of new-onset tinnitus after coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination.

Study: Prevalence of New-Onset Tinnitus after COVID-19 Vaccination with Comparison to Other Vaccinations. Image Credit: Miss Ty/Shutterstock

The growing prevalence of vaccine hesitancy and anxiety about the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccine’s side effects has become an important global health concern. As a result, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, extensive research has been conducted on the adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccination. Recently, tinnitus has drawn attention as a possible side effect of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Following COVID-19 vaccination, patients have reported the development of life-altering tinnitus that may be accompanied by hearing loss, thus drastically damaging a patient’s quality of life.

About the study

In the present study, researchers determined the proportion of patients who experienced new-onset tinnitus within 21 days of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine compared to those who received influenza, polysaccharide pneumococcus, and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis) vaccines.

The TriNetX Analytics Network, a federated health research network, collected de-identified electronic health record (EHR) data from over 78 million patients across 45 health care organizations (HCOs) in the US. This data was employed to create a retrospective cohort design. In the US Collaborative Network of the TriNetX platform, there were 78,058,186 patients with any EHR.

Five patient groups were identified: (1) those who were administered the first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose between 15 December 2020 and 1 March 2022, (2) those who received their second mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose between 15 December 2020 and 1 March 2022, (3) those who received the influenza vaccine between 1 January 2019 and 1 December 2019, (4) those who received Tdap vaccine between 1 January 2019 and 1 December 2019, and (5) those who received pneumococcal vaccine between 1 January 2019 and 1 December 2019.

The dates corresponding to the COVID-19 vaccination group ranged from the first day of COVID-19 vaccination in the US to a hypothetical date that provided a window of more than three weeks before the data was obtained. To rule out the likelihood of COVID-19 vaccination within these three groups, three additional common vaccination groups were evaluated throughout 2019.

The team defined a vaccination event as the first time a patient fulfilled the criteria in a specific time window, implying that the first COVID-19 dose was assessed in the first dose cohort. The COVID-19 second dosage group experienced precisely two documented vaccination procedures. The diagnosis of tinnitus in a patient with no prior history of the condition was referred to as new-onset tinnitus.

Results

The study results showed that within 21 days of receiving their first and second dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, 0.038% of the 2,575,235 participants and 0.031% of the 1,477,890 participants were diagnosed with tinnitus. Following the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, there was a decreased likelihood of experiencing tinnitus than following the first dose. Compared to the influenza group, tinnitus was reported by 998,991 influenza vaccine patients and 1,009,935 first-dose COVID-19 vaccine patients. Furthermore, there were 720 cases of a new diagnosis of tinnitus in the influenza group and 374 cases in the first dose COVID-19 group.

As compared to the Tdap cohort, there were a total of 444,708 Tdap vaccine patients and 444,721 first-dose COVID-19 vaccine patients. These included 314 cases of a new tinnitus diagnosis in the Tdap group and 133 new tinnitus cases in the first dose COVID-19 group. in the case of the polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine group, the team found 153,344 pneumococcal vaccine patients compared to 154,825 patients who received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Among these, there were 132 cases of a new encounter diagnosis of tinnitus in the pneumococcal vaccine patients, while 79 tinnitus cases occurred in the first dose COVID-19 group.

In comparing the COVID-19 second dose group, 1,516,282 patients received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 1,516,282 patients received the first dose. These included 465 cases of a new diagnosis of tinnitus in the COVID-19 second dose group and 577 new tinnitus cases in the COVID-19 first dose group.

Overall the study findings showed that patients had a higher chance of experiencing tinnitus after receiving Tdap, influenza, and pneumococcus vaccines than after the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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