Osteoporosis can affect anyone. In the US, more than 50 million Americans either have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing it.
Osteoporosis causes bone demineralization, which significantly weakens and damages bone structure. This in turn makes bones fragile and prone to breaking.
But is there a link between osteoporosis and hearing loss? Can osteoporosis cause sudden hearing loss? Keep reading as we take a closer look.
What’s the Link Between Hearing Loss and Osteoporosis?
Within the ear are 3 very small bones that are vital for hearing. Like any bone, they are susceptible to osteoporosis. The eardrum is a membrane that attaches to these bones. To hear sound, soundwaves need to strike against the eardrum.
If any or all of the bones are damaged, the structure fails to work well, resulting in conductive hearing loss. In 2013, a University of Illinois study reported this link to gradual hearing loss.
A Recent Hearing Loss Study
A more recent study in Taiwan has shown that people with osteoporosis may also be almost twice as likely to develop Sudden Sensorineural onset Hearing Loss (SSHL), compared to people without the bone disease.
SSHL is usually experienced in one ear, and occurs either all at once or over a very short time span. Sensorineural hearing loss is due to damage to the inner ear or of damage to the nerve pathways from the ear to the brain.
This study compared people with osteoporosis to people without it, over a period of time. They found that those with osteoporosis were 76 percent more likely to develop SSHL. Women with osteoporosis were 87 percent more likely to develop SSHL.
In the US, 1 in 5000 people will develop SSHL every year. 50% regain their hearing without intervention, 85% regain normal hearing after prompt treatment; i.e. treatment within 2 to 4 weeks of the hearing loss. If you’re experiencing any sudden onset hearing loss, the faster you seek medical advice the better.
How You Can Protect Your Hearing
More research is still required to fully understand the causes and effects of the link between osteoporosis and hearing loss. It is important for individuals who are at risk or suffering from osteoporosis to monitor their hearing and act quickly if they have any concerns. Ensure you’re getting regular check-ups with a hearing specialist, and take additional preventative measures to protect your hearing, such as:
- Use earplugs around loud noises.
- Turn the volume down.
- Give your ears time to recover.
- Stop using cotton swabs in your ears.
- Keep your ears dry.
- Manage stress levels.
Have a Question? Contact Us Today!
If you want to learn more about the links between osteoporosis and hearing loss, or find out if you may be at risk, speak to one of our hearing specialists today. Please contact us at Hearing, Balance, & Speech Center to speak with one of our hearing professionals. Alternatively, call us at 203-774-5642.