Those diagnosed with osteoporosis are at higher risk of sudden hearing loss, and are nearly twice as likely to develop a sudden hearing loss as people who do not have the bone disease, according to a recent study in Taiwan.
10,660 Taiwan residents who were diagnosed with osteoporosis between 1999-2008 and 31,980 people in a control group who were free of the disease comprised the study. Researchers found that participants diagnosed with osteoporosis faced nearly twice the risk of developing sudden hearing loss than those in the control group.
”Patients who have osteoporosis should seek medical help if they experience hearing loss”, said one of the researchers, Kai-Jen Tien, MD of the Chi Mei Medical Center in Taiwan.
Osteoporosis is a debilitating condition in which bones become structurally weak and are more likely to break or fracture. Many risk factors can lead to bone loss and osteoporosis. Risk factors include:
- Gender. Women get osteoporosis more often than men.
- Body size. Thin, small women are at a greater risk.
- Age. The older you are, the greater your risk.
- Ethnicity. White and Asian women are at highest risk. Black and Hispanic women are at a lower risk.
- Family history. Osteoporosis typically runs in families. If a family member has osteoporosis or breaks a bone, it is more likely that you will too.
Sudden hearing loss can typically occur in one ear. It can appear suddenly or develop gradually during a short span of time. The Taiwanese researchers are unsure which biological mechanism is responsible for the relationship between osteoporosis and sudden hearing loss. Specific relation between the conditions remains unclear. Researchers theorize that bone demineralization, cardiovascular risk factors, and inflammation might contribute to the association.
Dr. Dena advises her patients in at-risk groups to be hearing-aware, and get their hearing checked regularly.