Arthritis affects more than 350 million people worldwide, with 23 million of those individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) alone. While living with this chronic inflammatory disorder comes with it’s own set of challenges, you may be surprised to learn that an RA diagnosis also comes with an increased risk of hearing loss or ear problems.
A recent study observed that rheumatoid arthritis and hearing loss may be more closely related than we previously understood. So what exactly is the link between hearing loss and arthritis? Let’s take a look at some key points to help you understand the risks.
The Link Between Arthritis and Hearing Loss
In a study from 2016, researchers observed that individuals living with rheumatoid arthritis were at increased risk of suffering from hearing loss. Despite several studies done surrounding this connection, most experts agree that the exact association between the two is still uncertain.
It has been widely expressed that the hearing loss associated with RA patients is a multifactorial issue, and that pinpointing the exact reason why rheumatoid arthritis patients experience a greater instance of hearing impairment has not been pinpointed to just one cause. In many cases, the use of pharmaceuticals has played an important role in the data collected to help determine why this increased risk is so prevalent in RA sufferers.
In some cases, the use of over the counter anti-inflammatories has been associated with a higher occurrence of hearing impairment in individuals who may be treating their RA symptoms. The reason for this causation is due to antiinflammatory drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen as being potentially damaging to nerve structures in continued or high doses. This damage can take place in the nerves associated with your auditory senses, and can impact them on a permanent level. Certain medications can also reduce blood flow to the cochlea, causing further damage and increasing the risk of hearing impairment.
Treating the Issue – How to Address Your Increased Risk
In order to fully understand the risks that link arthritis and hearing loss, it’s important to speak to your medical provider or hearing healthcare specialist. Identifying the root of the issue, whether it’s based on your arthritis treatment plan, medications you may be taking, or other factors that may be affecting your hearing, will be pivotal in moving forward with your diagnosis. In some cases, a change in medications may help the issue, but speaking with your medical professionals can help set you in the right direction for treatment.
Some treatment plans may include alternative arthritis treatment plans or therapy that can more appropriately address your symptoms. Your hearing healthcare specialist can also help you address any hearing issues, whether it’s a decrease in hearing, tinnitus, or other issues you may be having.
You may find that your symptoms are not associated, and your doctors will be able to provide you with more information on next steps for that, as well. It’s always best to refer to the advice of your medical professionals to help you make fully informed, and healthy choices for your health!
If you’d like to book in a hearing assessment with the hearing healthcare professionals at Regional Hearing and Balance, call us at 208-497-3596 or click here to request an appointment now.