People living with osteoporosis typically have a long list of health concerns due to their weakened bones. But now a new study indicates that osteoporosis sufferers may have something else to worry about: hearing loss.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a degenerative condition that significantly weakens the skeletal system, resulting in a higher likelihood that bones will break or fracture. As with many degenerative disorders, there isn’t a singular cause, but the disease typically impacts people over the age of 50. Currently, health experts estimate that 40 million Americans either have osteoporosis or are likely to develop the condition later on in life.
What the Study Says
In order to determine what relation, if any, osteoporosis has to hearing loss, a group of researchers looked at the medical records of more than 10,000 Taiwanese residents who were diagnosed with the disease between 2000 and 2008. These patients were then compared with a control group of nearly 32,000 people who did not suffer from osteoporosis. The researchers then looked at how many of these roughly 42,000 people were now suffering from a condition known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL).
Just as the name implies, sudden sensorineural hearing loss is a spontaneous, rapid loss of hearing, the cause of which is unknown. Typically, the condition causes partial or complete deafness and can occur over the course of several days or all at once. Luckily, sudden SNHL only occurs in one ear and patients can typically regain their hearing if they seek immediate treatment.
The study determined that, on average, people with osteoporosis are almost twice as likely to experience sudden sensorineural hearing loss. But how can a degenerative bone disease cause a loss of hearing?
A Possible Explanation
Experts are still unsure as to how osteoporosis leads to hearing loss, but one of the most likely theories involves other systems in the body. More and more, doctors are finding that osteoporosis also affects the cerebrovascular and cardiovascular systems. Therefore, the sudden loss of hearing could be related to problems with these areas, as opposed to issues in the skeletal system.
Alternatively, it’s possible that inflammation caused by osteoporosis could negatively impact the receptor systems in our ears, causing sudden SNHL.
Regardless of how osteoporosis leads to hearing loss, the study indicates that there is a connection. So if you suffer from osteoporosis and experience any type of hearing loss, you should seek medical advice as quickly as possible.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!