Study Finds Link Between Osteoporosis and Hearing Loss
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers found that people with osteoporosis were twice as likely to develop sudden hearing loss.
According to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Kai-Jen Tien, “there seems to be a causal relationship, but the risk relationship between these two diseases was not clear.”
Dr. Tien says the study is not able to answer whether or not early detection and treatment of osteoporosis can reduce the risk of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). SNHL is caused by damage to the inner ear or nerve pathways to the brain. The study’s focus was on “sudden cases” of presumed sensorineural hearing loss.
SNHL is the most common type of permanent hearing loss and is often treatable with hearing aids or cochlear implants in more profound cases.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss can occur all at once or over a period of several days.
Researchers in Taiwan compared 10,660 patients with osteoporosis to almost 31, 980 randomly selected patients who didn’t have the bone disease. They followed the two groups through 2011.
What they found was that 91 of the patients diagnosed with osteoporosis were also diagnosed with sudden hearing loss. By comparison 155 patients who didn’t have the bone disease were diagnosed with sudden deafness.
In statistic speak that meant that the rate of sudden hearing loss in people with osteoporosis came out to 10 people in 10,000 per year, compared to 6 and 10,000 people per year for those without osteoporosis.
Researchers say that about half of the people who experience sudden hearing loss spontaneously recover their hearing. Eighty-five percent of the people that are treated for sudden deafness recover some hearing.
The research team also noted that a growing body of evidence shows that in addition to bone health, osteoporosis affects cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems.
This is the first study to look at osteoporosis as a risk factor in sudden hearing loss. Other typical risk factors cited are cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease and diabetes.
Dr. Tien advises that “patients who have osteoporosis should be aware they need to seek medical help immediately if they experience hearing loss.”