Osteoporosis and Sudden Hearing Loss

Osteoporosis and Sudden Hearing Loss

According to a recent study people diagnosed with osteoporosis have almost twice the risk of developing hearing loss as those without the bone-fragile skeletal disease.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones to the point where they can break all too easily. Most often, it affects the bones in the hip, backbone (spine), and wrists. Osteoporosis is often called a “silent disease” because people don’t often realize they have it until a bone unexpectedly breaks.  While it may seem sudden, break down in the bones has often been developing for many years.

Bone is living tissue. Your body is continually breaking down old bone and replacing it with new bone tissue. At about age 30, bone mass stops regenerating, and the goal for bone health is to maintain as much bone as possible for as long as you can. As people enter their 40s and 50s, more bone may be broken down than is replaced.

The microscopic interior of a bone resembles something like a honeycomb. When you have osteoporosis, the spaces in this honeycomb grow larger, and the bone that forms the honeycomb gets smaller. The outer shell of your bones also gets thinner making your bones weaker.

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) is also known as sudden deafness. Sensorineural hearing involves the inner ear, cochlea or the auditory nerve. Sudden Hearing Loss occurs when you lose your hearing very quickly, typically only in one ear. It can happen instantly or over a span of several days.

There are about 4,000 cases of SSHL diagnosed each year in the United States. The condition most commonly affects people between ages 30 and 60. About 50 percent of people with unilateral SSHL (only one ear is affected) recover within two weeks if they get prompt treatment. About 15 percent of people with the condition have hearing loss that gradually gets worse over time.

How SSHL and Osteoporosis are Connected

A recent study looked at the risk of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) using data collected from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance claims. The results showed that patients with osteoporosis have a 1.76 times higher risk of developing SSHL than patients without osteoporosis. Although previous studies have pointed to an increased prevalence of the condition in osteoporotic patients, the risk was unclear.

“A growing body of evidence indicates that osteoporosis affects not only bone health, but the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems,” says Dr. Kai-Jen Tien, MD. “Our findings suggest sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) can be another broader health problem connected to osteoporosis.”

The findings of the study may be useful in the daily practices of rheumatologists everywhere because the prevalence of osteoporosis is increasing worldwide, notes Dr. Tien. Early detection and treatment of hearing loss could result in better outcomes, he says.

“In our daily practice, hearing loss was often ignored and seen as an independent event which was not related to osteoporosis,” says Dr. Tien. “The physicians and patients should be alert for the association.”

Do I have Osteoporosis and How can I Prevent it?

For some people, the first sign of osteoporosis is to realize they are getting shorter or to break a bone easily. Don’t wait until that happens to see if you have osteoporosis. You can have a bone density test to find out how strong your bones are.

There are things you should do at any age to prevent weakened bones. Eating foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D is important. So is regular weight-bearing exercise, such as weight training, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing.

Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center

“Patients who have osteoporosis should be aware that they need to seek medical help if they experience hearing loss,” said Kai-Jen Tien, MD of the Chi Mei Medical Center in Taiwan.

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, based on this study, it’s a safe bet to get your hearing tested. Contact us at Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center to set up an appointment today for a hearing test.  We can properly diagnose your hearing and make sure your hearing will stay as healthy as possible for years to come.