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New Study Links Gout to Hearing Loss

by April Maguire

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

If you know anything about hearing loss, you probably know that the odds of suffering from it increase with age. In large part, that's because the tiny hair-like cells in the inner ear that take in sound information from the world start to degrade with time, breaking down the way that other parts of the anatomy do, resulting in a diminished capacity to hear. Unfortunately, however, certain other factors can increase the rate of hearing loss and make it worse.

Scientists are constantly on the lookout for these compounding factors. Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Alabama in Birmingham reported that gout could be a significant contributor to hearing loss among the elderly.

Gout and Hearing

So by now you might be wondering, what exactly is gout? Gout is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes a buildup of uric acid crystals in the body. These crystals collect in the joints, causing arthritis. There is no cure for gout, and although it may not be that well known, roughly 4% of the population suffers from it.

According to its authors, the study out of Birmingham examining the links between gout and hearing loss is one of the first of its kind. For the study, the team looked at claims data from more than 1.7 million Medicare patients, all 65 and older. While the general rate of hearing impairment among the group was 8.7 per 1,000 person-years, the rate among people who also suffered from gout was an eye-popping 16.9 per 1,000 person years. Once the team adjusted for other factors, such as additional conditions and demographics, they found that gout contributed to a 44% higher likelihood of developing hearing loss.

The question then becomes, how does gout cause a loss of hearing ability? As to this question, the researchers did not offer a concrete answer. However, we know from previous studies that inflammation generally contributes to hearing loss, so it is safe to assume that gout's inflammatory triggers are a driving force behind the correlation.

To be sure, more research will be needed to determine the exact connection between the two conditions. But the good news is that, even with gout, the progress of hearing loss can often be slowed through intervention. Using hearing aids and other assistive devices has been proven to help people retain more of their natural hearing. So at the first sign of hearing loss, you should pay a visit to an audiologist and begin corrective measures as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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