An estimated 15 percent of the adult population in America reports having hearing problems and another 54 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis or low bone mass. Both statistics are important to note, but why exactly are we informing you about hearing loss and bone loss at the same time? Well, research suggests that bone loss and hearing loss may actually be linked. Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by loss in bone mass. This commonly affects women more than men and worsens with aging. Hearing loss, too, heightens with aging, thus both conditions greatly affect the health of the elderly.
Bone loss contributes to temporary hearing loss
A recent study conducted by researchers at the Chi Mei Medical Center in Taiwan wanted to further examine the link between bone loss and temporary hearing loss. The researchers looked at more than 10,000 Taiwan residents diagnosed with osteoporosis between 1999 and 2008. These individuals were compared with nearly 32,000 people without the condition.
By the end of 2011 researchers found that 76 percent of those with osteoporosis were at higher risk of developing sudden deafness – this typically occurs in one ear and occurs randomly. This type of hearing loss can also be temporary and either happens all at once or over the course of a few days.
According to the researchers, about half of the people who experience sudden hearing loss will regain their hearing, and about 85 percent who get treatment for the condition will regain some hearing.
Dr. Kai-Jen Tien said, “A growing body of evidence indicates that osteoporosis affects not only bone health, but the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. [Sudden hearing loss] may be another broader health problem connected to osteoporosis.”
Unfortunately, the study did not uncover cause and effect between the two conditions, and researchers theorize that other health conditions may be at play. Conditions such as heart risk factors, inflammation and bone demineralization may all contribute to the link.
Dr. Tien added, “Patients who have osteoporosis should be aware they need to seek medical help immediately if they experience hearing loss.”
The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
How to prevent bone loss and hearing loss
Although the link between bone loss and hearing loss is still unclear, it’s still important to make appropriate lifestyle changes to prevent bone loss as well as hearing loss. Here are some tips to protect your bones and your hearing.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Always protect your ears by wearing earplugs when encountering loud noises.
- Keep volumes down to a minimal.
- Reduce your coffee and alcohol intake.
- Don’t smoke.
- Get routine checks of your bone density and hearing, especially the older you get.