Osteoporosis Can Almost Double the Risk of Deafness
Osteoporosis is commonly associated with bone fractures, but new research shows that an increased risk of hearing loss may also be a concern for those with the condition. The study suggests that osteoporosis can almost double the chance of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) – a rapid, unexplained loss of hearing which can occur at once or over the course of several days.
Researchers at the Chi Mei Medical Center in Taiwan examined the medical records of 10,660 Taiwan residents who were diagnosed with osteoporosis between 1999 and 2008, and compared them to the records of 31,980 people who did not have the condition. They found that those with osteoporosis were 1.76 times more likely to develop sudden sensorineural hearing loss than those without.
“A growing body of evidence indicates that osteoporosis affects not only bone health, but the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems,” says study author Dr Kai-Jen Tien. “Our findings suggest sudden sensorineural hearing loss can be another broader health problem connected to osteoporosis.”
So far, there is no evidence to explain what biological mechanism causes the link between thinning bones and hearing loss. Dr Tien says that there are a number of risk factors which could play a role, such as cardiovascular problems, bone demineralisation, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction.
“More people worldwide are suffering from osteoporosis, and our work shows they are at risk of sensorineural hearing loss as well as bone fracture and other problems,” says Dr Tien. “Patients who have osteoporosis should be aware they need to seek medical help immediately if they experience hearing loss.”