Today, we'd like to revisit that discussion. Although there may still be cause to add auditory and vestibular impairment to COVID-19's many long-haul symptoms, overall, medical publication Healio reports that the causal link is still relatively weak. Since much of the world is still struggling to weather multiple waves of infections, comprehensive medical trials have been near-impossible to conduct. 

Because of this, physicians and researchers have mostly been limited to patient surveys, observations, or test results. Although this data is all valuable in helping us learn more about the virus, our understanding is ultimately still incomplete. It's a bit like being given 1000 puzzle pieces pulled from ten different puzzles. 

Although research into the coronavirus has continued without pause for almost two years now, we still do not know enough to make a definitive judgment. It doesn't help that research has uncovered multiple links which are both plausible yet do not appear to make logical sense. The lack of a control group to serve as a baseline only further muddies the waters. 

Much of what we currently understand about the virus has been sourced from medical records, severe cases of COVID-19 that required hospital admission. Given the difficulty (and the risk) of identifying asymptomatic carriers, research into whether or not severity is a factor in long-term symptoms has been similarly limited. For many among the medical community, the consensus is that we may not fully understand the coronavirus until many years after it's reached endemic status. 

Believe it or not, this is actually quite normal. Science is not the clean, clear-cut results that the public has grown so used to seeing. At least, not entirely.

Arriving at those results requires a process very similar to what we've seen play out in real-time throughout 2020 and 2021. Endless tests, countless theories, and messy collections of seemingly disjointed data points. All to arrive at a hypothesis that's true until proven false.

As the pandemic continues and the virus continues to evolve, we'll learn more about the extent to which it can cause long-term harm. But until such time as we can conduct a truly comprehensive study, we cannot say anything with certainty. All that remains for most of us is to simply wait and see. 

In the meantime, however, we can practice some degree of harm reduction in how we respond to the pandemic. There is a significant cause for concern about the risks posed by unproven COVID-19 treatments. Hydroxychloroquine, for instance, includes among its side effects ototoxicity and — in severe cases — organ failure. 

And ivermectin, a medication used as a dewormer for livestock, has side effects that make hydroxychloroquine look tame by comparison. According to the Food and Drug Administration, not only does ivermectin interact dangerously with medications such as blood thinners, it's incredibly easy to overdose on the drug if it's acquired in its highly-concentrated form from a feed store. Symptoms of an ivermectin overdose include, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Itching and hives
  • Ataxia and muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Death
While data on COVID-19 is still developing, information on these drugs and their side effects are already well-established by the medical community. As in any situation, our best bet at this point is to follow established medical science. We'll get through this — and one way or another, we'll eventually know for certain the truth about long COVID.