29 August 2017

Link between hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia

There is a relationship between hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia, according to an American study.

People with iron deficiency anemia have more than twice the rate of hearing loss as people without the disorder. This is the conclusion of a study carried out at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in the US.

When the researchers looked at the types of hearing loss, the overall risk for sensorineural hearing loss in persons with iron deficiency anemia was 82% higher than for someone without the blood condition and the risk of a mixed hearing loss (a combination of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss) was 240% higher than for people without iron deficiency anemia.

Why is there a connection?

According to the author the study only shows a connection between hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia. The study does not prove that the one causes the other.

As for why iron deficiency anemia might be connected to hearing loss, ear-nose-and-throat specialist Peter Steyger of Oregon Health & Science University's Oregon Hearing Research Center said according to  upi.com that several factors could be in play. 

"Iron is clearly required for normal functioning of the auditory system, as for many other organs, and too little can result in anemia, the loss of hemoglobin in red blood cells which carry oxygen to the tissues in the body. Too little iron can also disrupt the workings of cells and even kill them leading to hearing loss if that happens to hair cells in the inner ear”, he said.

Iron deficiency anemia is anemia caused by a lack of iron. Anemia is a decrease in the number of red blood cells or the amount of hemoglobin in the blood.

About the study

In the study the researchers checked the prevalence of hearing loss in more than 300,000 adults from 2011 to 2015. The adults were between the ages of 21 and 90, with an average age of 50. 56.6% were women, 43.4 were men.

The study was published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery.

Sources: jamanetwork.com and upi.com

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