What does osteoporosis, a potentially debilitating disease affecting some 10 million Americans and 2 million Canadians, have in common with conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, dementia, and other selected conditions? It can go hand in hand with hearing loss. More specifically, at least one study links osteoporosis to a nearly doubled risk of sudden sensorineural hearing loss, a disease that can touch people of all ages around the globe but primarily affects those in their 50s and 60s.
What Is Osteoporosis?Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by weakened bones that are more vulnerable to breakage. It occurs when the normal process of old bone being replaced by new bone slows down, putting the person at greater risk of serious problems such as hip, wrist, and spine fractures. Though some osteoporosis risk factors such as gender, age, race, and family history can’t be helped, a few preventive tactics can make a difference in keeping bones healthy, strong, and more resistant to becoming fragile, weak, and brittle:
- Avoid tobacco use and excess drinking.
- Adopt a regular exercise regimen approved by your doctor.
- Maintain a healthy body weight, steering clear of too few or too many calories.
- Eat healthfully, being sure to include protein, calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients in your diet.
Does Osteoporosis Cause Sudden Hearing Loss?Scientists aren’t necessarily ready to say that osteoporosis actually causes sudden sensorineural hearing loss, but studies have long reported a relationship between the two. More recently, researchers in Taiwan sought to quantify the risk of sudden hearing loss in osteoporotic patients. They published their results in the June 2015 edition of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The investigators, who studied a random representative sample of 1 million participants in Taiwan’s National Health Insurance program, found that those with osteoporosis had a 1.76-fold risk of experiencing sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Patients at seemingly greatest risk: adults 50 and older, women, and — possibly — those with hypertension and osteoporosis.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT SUDDEN SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS
- Relatively common and typically referred to as “sudden deafness” or “SSHL”
- Involves rapid hearing loss in an instant or over several days
- Usually develops in one ear rather than both
- May occur together with dizziness or ringing in the ears
- Requires immediate help for greatest effectiveness of treatment
- Common treatment includes steroid therapy, but some cases resolve on their own
- Often has unknown cause, but common culprits include head injury, ototoxic drugs, infectious disease, circulation problems, thyroid disorders, and other selected conditions