When we think of reasons why people lose their hearing, we often think of two scenarios. We look at the noise that they have been subjected to in their environment or, we put it down as something that just happens as people get older. However, hearing loss can also be the result of complications from chronic health conditions. This is an area that has been ignored in the past. A body of research has come about which has linked hearing loss to health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease. Research now points to osteoporosis as a cause for sudden hearing loss.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, Osteoporosis is a bone disorder that reduces bone density and bone strength and affects approximately 54 million Americans. As bones become less dense and more brittle, the risk of a break becomes much higher. This bone loss is gradual and until the bone is broken, there often is no sign of a problem.
Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL)
Sudden losses of hearing can affect one or both ears. Many people realize their symptoms when first waking up in the morning. Others first notice it when trying to use one particular ear, for example when using a mobile phone to make a call. Just before the hearing fades others notice a loud “pop”. People with sudden hearing loss often get dizzy and/or have ringing in their ears.
SSHL happens to one out of 5,000 people each year in the United States. 50% of those recover their hearing almost instantly and 85% of the rest recover if diagnosed and treated quickly.
Study links hearing loss with sudden hearing loss
A key study released by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism showed that those with osteoporosis are 40% more likely than those without to develop sudden hearing loss. They screened over 65,000 adults over the age of 50 in this study. Researchers looked for sudden hearing loss cases. There was an increased risk of impaired hearing for those with osteoporosis. A study in Taiwan showed the same link between hearing and osteoporosis. They reviewed more than 40,000 adult medical records. Those diagnosed with osteoporosis were much more likely to develop a sudden loss of hearing.
What is it about Osteoporosis that causes Sudden Hearing Loss?
These two studies demonstrate a clear connection between cases of sudden hearing loss and osteoporosis. These two conditions are linked with each other, but it is still uncertain exactly why.
Researchers theorize that the heart-related risks often seen with osteoporosis may affect the ear. When the heart does not properly pump blood, some structures may experience a lack of oxygen. The ears are often one of the body parts that do not receive enough blood flow. This could damage or even kill the tiny inner ear cells. Any period of time without oxygen to the ears may result in a sudden loss of hearing.
What you should do if you encounter a sudden hearing loss
Although a 40% risk increase seen in the first study is a large rise, the general risk of sudden hearing loss is still small. Only about 15 out of 100,000 people between the ages of 50 and 60 will experience SSHL. The numbers are even lower for those without osteoporosis. However, any sudden change in your hearing is a serious concern and you should watch it closely. after a hearing loss appears the window for successful treatment is closed for two to four weeks – those with the disorder must act fast.
Immediate treatment can, therefore, maximize the chances of total recovery of hearing.
Those who notice a change in their hearing should contact us immediately. if there is a hearing loss present we can act quickly and make sure that you are referred immediately for medical treatment. Additionally, we can help treat the hearing loss in the unfortunate event that it becomes permanent. Managing hearing loss with hearing aids helps reduce the causes of stress associated with hearing loss and increases your quality of life.
Contact us to arrange a hearing consultation.