Original Research

Middle ear status – structure, function and pathology: A scoping review on middle ear status of COVID-19 positive patients

Ben Sebothoma, Katijah Khoza-Shangase
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 69, No 2 | a910 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v69i2.910 | © 2022 Ben Sebothoma, Katijah Khoza-Shangase | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 January 2022 | Published: 25 July 2022

About the author(s)

Ben Sebothoma, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is the latest public health emergency that has presented challenges globally. Limited evidence exists on the association between COVID-19 and middle ear pathologies, regardless of the respiratory nature of some of the core symptoms.

Objective: This scoping review aimed at exploring evidence on the effects of COVID-19 on middle ear functioning as part of symptom mapping and preventive planning for ear and hearing care.

Method: Electronic bibliographic databases, including Medline, ProQuest, PubMed, Science Direct, ERIC and Scopus, were searched to identify peer reviewed publications, published in English, between December 2019 and January 2022, related to the effects of COVID-19 on middle ear functioning. The keywords used as MeSH terms included ‘middle ear pathology’, ‘middle ear disorder’, ‘otitis media’, ‘hearing loss’, ‘hearing impairment’, ‘audiology’ and ‘COVID-19’ or ‘coronavirus’.

Results: From eight studies that met the inclusion criteria, the findings revealed that middle ear pathologies occur in this population, with the occurrence ranging from 1.15% to 75%. Tympanic membrane structural changes, otitis media and conductive hearing loss (CHL) were commonly reported. The current findings must be interpreted with caution given that most of the studies reviewed had extremely small sample sizes or were case studies or series, thus limiting generalisability.

Conclusion: The findings highlight the value of strategic research planning to collate data during pandemics, ensuring that future studies use appropriate and well-designed methodologies. Trends and patterns of middle ear pathologies in this population must also be established to determine the need for periodic monitoring.


Keywords

COVID-19; middle ear function; scoping review; pathology; symptoms

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Crossref Citations

1. The impact of COVID-19 on speech–language and hearing professions in low- and middle-income countries: Challenges and opportunities explored
Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Nomfundo Moroe, Joanne Neille, Anita Edwards
South African Journal of Communication Disorders  vol: 69  issue: 2  year: 2022  
doi: 10.4102/sajcd.v69i2.937