Hearing loss is not an isolated problem. As with most issues with your body, if something goes wrong with your hearing, it can affect both your mental and physical health. From loneliness and depression to an increased risk of falling, to more serious issues such as cognitive decline and dementia—your hearing plays a big role in your overall quality of life.
Because there are so many health risks associated with hearing loss, scientists are always studying other conditions to learn about their connections with hearing impairment, and the results are often surprising.
For years, medical professionals have been aware of a possible link between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and hearing loss. Statistics show that patients with RA also suffer much higher rates of hearing impairment, leading many to speculate that inflammatory arthritis—and the medications used to treat it—may contribute to hearing loss.
A 2016 study by Amir Emamifar, MD, Ph.D., a research fellow at the University of Southern Denmark, found that up to 72% of RA patients experienced some levels of hearing loss. Meanwhile, another study of roughly 20,000 patients with RA and an additional 79,233 control subjects found the RA patients were four times as likely to develop hearing loss.
Researchers believe that RA activity occurs in some of the most complex parts of your hearing system—the middle ear, cochlea and auditory nerve—leading to a higher chance of hearing loss. Other possibilities include:
- • RA can damage the joints between the tiny bones inside the ear
- • RA increases clusters of antibodies and antigens, which can destroy the tiny, delicate hair cells of the inner ear
- • Vasculitis, a complication of RA, can damage the hair cells’ ability to transmit electrical signals to the auditory nerve and brain
- • Many of the medications used to treat inflammatory arthritis are toxic to the ear
Are you currently struggling with arthritis and have concerns that it may be affecting your hearing, as well? Talk to the experts at Hearing Focused, LLC to schedule a hearing screening today! Call Hearing Focused at (262) 679-8888 for a free hearing screening!