Hearing Loss & Rheumatoid Arthritis

It isn’t a new theory that rheumatoid arthritis is somehow connected to hearing impairment. Rheumatoid arthritis, commonly referred to as RA, is believed to affect the ears in a few different ways. With up to 72% of people who suffer from RA, also suffering from hearing loss, scientists are researching the links between RA and hearing loss. However, the very nature of RA, which causes the immune system to mistakenly attack tissue, damages more than just joints. While RA cannot be cured, it can be controlled with medication. That, however poses other risks as ototoxic medications can cause hearing impairment. So treating RA may impact hearing.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic progressive disease causing inflammation in the joints and resulting in painful deformity and immobility, especially in the fingers, wrists, feet, and ankles.

Hearing Loss Linked to Alcohol and Smoking

A study published in the The Open Rheumatology Journal includes a discussion of the relationships between RA, hearing loss, alcohol and smoking. RA commonly attacks the cochlea resulting in sensorineural hearing loss. Inhaling smoke both actively and passively has also been shown to affect hearing and the cochlea. Although alcohol consumption can impact the auditory systems, the study did not show a direct evidence that RA patients have higher risk to hearing loss if they drink. The study showed that factors such as length of time a person had suffered from RA also played a role in how likely they were to suffer from a hearing impairment, and that smoking and alcohol consumption, whether heavy or mild, played a large role in increased risk of suffering from hearing impairment.

Many doctors recommend that people who suffer from RA should avoid alcohol consumption and should quit smoking to avoid causing or worsening existing hearing impairments. They also advise patients to have their hearing regularly tested to be on top of any auditory changes as they happen as opposed to months or even years later. RA-related hearing impairments cannot be cured, and while they may not be completely prevented, hearing loss can be managed with proper care, including hearing aids.

Let us help you treat your hearing loss so you don’t miss a thing!

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and would like a comprehensive hearing assessment, contact us at Audiology Clinic. We have a friendly staff of hearing care professionals ready to help you with all your hearing needs.

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