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Posted on Thursday, May 07, 2015

Sleep Apnea Can Cause Hearing Loss

A bed can be a torturous place for people with sleep apnea.

Recent studies have linked lack of sleep with hearing loss, and now new studies support the theory that interrupted sleep and hearing problems are related. A study involving nearly 14,000 individuals has found that people with untreated sleep apnea were more likely to have hearing loss.

The study that included almost 14,000 people has now tied sleep apnea to an increased risk of hearing loss. According to a report by Science Daily "Among the 13,967 study subjects, 9.9% had at least moderate sleep apnea, 19.0% had high frequency hearing impairment, 1.5% had low frequency hearing impairment, and 8.4% had both high and low frequency hearing impairment."

So how do these sleeping problems cause hearing loss? Dr. Seva Polotsky, a sleep apnea researcher from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said in a recent article on Reuters Health, “It's possible that sleep apnea, which is known to increase the buildup of plaque in blood vessels, could affect vessels in areas of the brain that control hearing, or vessels that feed the nerves responsible for hearing.”

The truth is that scientist don't yet understand the link between hearing loss and sleep problems. Researchers have discovered that sleeping less--just over two nights--can harm blood vessel function. Your ears depend upon the blood that circulates in your body. The slowing of blood flow means fewer nutrients to the ear and this can lead to atrophy and destruction of the auditory hair cells. But this is a theory that has yet to be proven conclusively. The important thing for people who have issues with sleep, including sleep apnea, is to have your hearing tested regularly. Most hearing issues are correctible and detection can also help prevent further loss as individuals who are aware of hearing problems are more likely to work to preserve their hearing.

Many people suffer from hearing loss, including athletes. Below is a video that explains Shaq's sleep apnea and some other issues that this condition can cause.

If you'd like to learn more about keeping your hearing healthy, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

References
American Thoracic Society (ATS). "Sleep Apnea Tied to Hearing Loss in Large Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520152949.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

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