Posted on Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Hearing Loss and Osteoporosis

Ear with three piercings.

54 million Americans have low bone mass also known as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis happens when your body loses too much bone mass or doesn't make enough bone mass creating porous bones. In addition to the problems associated with this condition, people who have osteoporosis are also more likely to experience sudden hearing loss.

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is an unexpected loss of most or all hearing in one or both ears occurring within 3 days or less. 90% of people who experience sudden hearing loss experience it only in one ear.

Researchers studying people with osteoporosis found that people with this condition had an increased likelihood of experiencing sudden hearing loss. At first glance it would seem osteoporosis that primarily affects the bone would have little reason to affect hearing. But new research into this disease shows that it may also affect the cardiovascular system. And according to the government, "Blood circulation problems" can be one of several causes for sudden hearing loss.

If osteoporosis is inhibiting blood flow, this could mean that the blood that carries nutrients to the ears, nutrients the ears need to stay healthy, may not be reaching them. This correlation to sudden hearing loss has not been made, but it's a strong indicator of where to look. In fact, the researchers who conducted the study speculate that inflammation may play a key role in the higher incidence of people with osteoporosis having sudden hearing loss.

If inflammation in the ears inhibits blood flow, resulting in damage to hearing, it wouldn't be the first time. There is already research that shows poor blood flow from other conditions, such as arteriosclerosis can cause hearing loss. According to Vanderbilt University, "Poor blood flow from arteriosclerosis may lead to inadequate perfusion or flow of blood into the cochlea. These mechanisms may be described as a “stroke” of the inner ear."

Though the reasons behind the increased likelihood for someone with osteoporosis to have sudden hearing loss remain unclear, it is important that people who have this condition remain vigilant in caring for their hearing. If you'd like to learn more, 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!


Increased Risk of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss in Patients With Osteoporosis: A Population-based, Propensity Score-matched, Longitudinal Follow-Up Study


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