What is the link between COVID-19 and tinnitus? Expert explains what we know

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Kent Taylor, the founder and CEO of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain, tragically died by suicide after suffering from symptoms related to COVID-19, including severe tinnitus, according to the company and his family.

Tinnitus is a common condition involving ringing or other noises in one or both ears. Experts say the coronavirus can exacerbate tinnitus problems.

Dr. Anthony Cardillo, an ER specialist and CEO of Mend Urgent Care in Los Angeles, discussed what we know about the link between COVID-19 and tinnitus.

Cardillo explained the virus can affect our auditory nerves, which allow us to hear.

"Unfortunately, COVID is infecting the auditory nerve and giving us balance disturbance and then this tinnitus," Cardillo said.

"Now we have noted in prior studies that people who suffer from severe tinnitus, about 1% of them do endorse suicidal ideation and suicidal thoughts only because it is such an awful experience to have that ringing in your ear constantly, even preventing you from sleeping. So you can imagine how awful it is," Cardillo added.

To view the entire interview, watch the video above.

For anyone struggling with mental health or thoughts of suicide, resources are available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at (800) 273-8255

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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