Massage and audio-vestibular disorders
Massage and audio-vestibular disorders

There's evidence pointing to audio-vestibular disorders as side effects of COVID-19. What role can massage play in treating these conditions?

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), tinnitus, and vertigo are appearing as possible side effects of COVID-19. There are multiple sources of these side effects. The virus sometimes affects the inner ear, which can result in all of these conditions. There have been many reports of tinnitus appearing after receiving the COVID vaccine. Treatments, also, may be to blame.

Hydroxychloroquine, a treatment that gained use in the early days of the pandemic, is of a type of drug known for centuries to have side effects related to the brain and hearing. Azithromycin, an antibiotic also used to treat COVID, can cause SNHL.

How can we help clients who present with these conditions?

First, let's look at the characteristics and causes of SNHL, tinnitus, and vertigo:

  • Inflammation
  • Decreased blood flow
  • High immune responses can affect the inner ear and brain
  • COVID can trigger dizziness, imbalance, or ringing in the ears in people who had those conditions previously
  • Health issues in other organs can trigger imbalance and dizziness
  • Anxiety and poor sleep can make symptoms worse

The benefits of massage can be an effective treatment for these issues. There's evidence to show that massage helps:

  • Reduce inflammation through lymph drainage
  • Speed recovery through stimulation of the vestibular system
  • Reduce anxiety and improve sleep

When treating patients who present with these symptoms, these techniques can be helpful:

  • Elevate the head and legs
  • Use gentle techniques: lymph drainage, craniosacral therapy (especially ear traction and soft palette release), gentle movement, inter-oral massage or jaw work
  • Play soothing music
  • Encourage hydration, healthy sleep, and regular easy exercise (even getting up often from your chair)

Let your clients know the research behind these conditions and that massage can help.

In health,