Hearing Loss and Osteoporosis: Is there a Link?

There are many medical disorders that are secondary to bone loss and therefore have a hand in causing this to happen.  Medications can also cause bone loss, so it’s important to know if either medications or medical disorders are responsible for your bone loss.  If this is the case, it is important to correct the secondary disorder or stop medication that causes this, or the underlying cause of bone loss will go untreated and continue to cause our bone to lose density which leads to many types of fractures.

People who have osteoporosis face a 1.76-fold higher risk of developing sudden deafness than those who do not have the bone disease, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a weakening of our bone structure where we see reduced bone mineral density (BMD).  Bone loss is a systemic disorder, even though a DXA scan only measures the bone density in our spine, hip and possibly our wrist; so we can assume that if these areas are low in BMD then the rest of our skeleton is as well.  In the United States more than 40 million people already have low bone density.

What type of hearing loss is associated with osteoporosis?

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The type of hearing loss associated with osteoporosis is, sudden on-set of deafness.  Since this isn’t a type of hearing loss that happens gradually, we should notice this and report it to our doctors immediately.  Approximately 50% of patients who develop sudden deafness will regain their hearing with treatment.  Eighty-five percent of those treated for deafness, from bone loss, will regain some of their hearing with treatment; making this important to bring to your doctors attention.  This type of deafness can occur all at once, or over a period of several days.

What is the connection between sudden deafness and bone loss?

Like many medical disorders, we don’t know the actual cause of deafness with bone loss, but Tien theorizes cardiovascular risk factors, bone demineralization, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction may contribute to the association.

Osteoporosis may have an inflammatory link, within our bodies, so have your inflammation markers checked to see if they are above normal for the reference range.  You can combat inflammation by cutting down on foods and drinks that cause inflammation like: sugar, dairy, alcohol and trans-fat-loaded foods.

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, Tien said. Patients who have osteoporosis should be aware they need to seek medical help immediately if they experience hearing loss.

Source:

1.Endocrine Society. (2015, April 16). Osteoporosis diagnosis contributes to hearing loss risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 7, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150416132017.htm

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Pam is a patient educator and digital health writer who has worked for Remedy Health Media on their osteoporosis web site since 2008.  Pam is also a group leader and moderator with the National Osteoporosis Foundation Inspire online community since 2012, answering questions and guiding members who are newly diagnosed with bone loss.