New Study Suggests Osteoporosis Linked to Sudden Hearing Loss

For years, researchers have recognized the connection between osteoporosis and other serious health conditions involving the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. Recently, however, a new study from Taiwan suggests osteoporosis is also linked to a type of hearing loss known as Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL).

Sudden sensorineural hearing lossWhat Is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

According to the Canadian Academy of Audiology, the organization states that Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss is a sudden and unexplained loss of hearing that may occur all at once or progressively over a two- or three-day period. In 90 percent of cases, only one ear is affected. It is considered a medical emergency, and patients should seek treatment right away. Many patients experience tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, and dizziness before SSHL occurs.

Much Higher Incidence

The study, led by Dr. Kai-Jen Tien and his team at the Chi Mei Medical Center, studied the records of 10,000 individuals diagnosed with osteoporosis between 1999 and 2008 and identified those who subsequently suffered from SSHL. They compared their findings against the number of people diagnosed with SSHL during that same time period from the records of over 32,000 people who did not have osteoporosis.

Their findings revealed that individuals with osteoporosis were 76 percent more likely to experience an episode of SSHL than those who did not have osteoporosis. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Uncertain Connections

 osteoporosis-and-hearing-lossWhile the study clearly identified a link between osteoporosis and sudden hearing loss, the researchers were unable to establish a biological mechanism that accounted for the increased likelihood of SSHL. Dr. Tien speculates that a combination of bone weakening and demineralization, increased cardiovascular risk factors, generalized inflammation, and dysfunction in the endothelial cells that line the circulatory system may be responsible.

In 2014, the National Osteoporosis Foundation released statistics indicating that 54 million Americans currently suffer from osteoporosis and that low bone mass, a precursor to the condition, affects another 43 million. In all, the Foundation estimates that over half of the adult population have some level of bone demineralization. This condition is responsible for over two million broken bones annually and is linked to increased risk for other serious health problems including SSHL.

With prompt medical treatment, about 85 percent of people affected with SSHL will recover their hearing. If you have osteoporosis and experience any symptoms that may indicate sudden hearing loss, call the office of Dr. Darius Kohan, New York City’s leading ear specialist for a consultation.