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Hearing loss is commonly associated with aging and noise, but these two aren’t the only causes. The condition can also result from complications of pre-existing health conditions. The relationships between hearing loss and other chronic conditions have traditionally been ignored, but that is changing. One example of this is the current medical research from Korea and Taiwan, which both show a strong connection between osteoporosis and sudden hearing loss.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones so much that they are much more liable to break. The bones in the hip, the spine and the wrists are usually affected. Osteoporosis is commonly referred to as a “silent disease,” because people often don’t notice they have the condition it until a bone breaks suddenly. Although bone breaks are sudden, bone breakdown actually develops over a number of years.
The inside of the bone looks like a honeycomb. The holes get larger and the bone walls get thinner if you have osteoporosis. Your bones’ external shell also gets thinner which makes your bones weaker and more liable to break.
What is Sudden Hearing Loss?
Sudden hearing losses may impact either or both ears. It can occur immediately or within a few weeks, and you may also have issues with tinnitus or even balance issues.
In the United States, the condition occurs in one out of 5,000 individuals every year. 50% of those restore their hearing almost instantaneously and 85% of the rest recover if quickly diagnosed and treated. But those with the condition must be quick – from two to four weeks after a hearing loss appears, the window for effective therapy is closed.
What is the link between Osteoporosis and Sudden Hearing Loss?
According to recent research in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, people with osteoporosis have a 40% higher risk of sudden hearing loss compared to those without the condition. The conclusions were based on screening of 65,000 adults over 50 years of age. The same link between hearing and bone health was found in a separate study in Taiwan. They examined health records for over 40,000 adults and discovered that osteoporosis was strongly linked with sudden hearing loss.
It’s important to know the processes responsible for hearing in order to understand how osteoporosis can influence your hearing. Sound waves go into your external ear canal, hitting the eardrum, a thin membrane that connects with three small bones known as the ossicles. One of these ossicles is called the stapes. This is one of the smaller bones of the human body and is particularly susceptible to fracture. Osteoporosis can weaken this bone, causing it to break and hearing loss to occur.
How to prevent Osteoporosis
To protect against weakened bones, there are several things you can do, whether you are young or old. It is crucial to eat foods rich in vitamin D and calcium. Regular exercise like walking, jogging, or taking the stairs is also recommended. The risk of SSHL may also be reduced by the use of anti-osteoporotic therapies to decrease the danger of fracture and enhance the quality of the bone in patients with osteoporosis, but further trials are required to evaluate the efficacy of these treatments.
To find out if you have osteoporosis, a bone density test can be done to determine the strength of your bones, and it’s best to do this sooner rather than later.
Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss
It’s also important to treat any hearing loss early. Dr. Steven Rauch, a medical director at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, was not part of the study, but he maintains that it’s important to seek treatment early with sudden hearing loss in order to stand the best chance of restoring it:
“If you treat it within the first couple of weeks, about 75 percent of patients get some of their hearing back, but if you miss that window it’s too late.”
Atlanta Hearing Doctor
In order to detect any sudden hearing loss from osteoporosis, we here at Atlanta Hearing Doctor recommend regular hearing tests with one of our expert members of staff. Even if hearing loss has already occurred, it can still be managed effectively with hearing aids. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.