A study evaluating the association of hearing impairment and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) concludes that RA patients have a higher risk of hearing impairment during their course of the disease compared to healthy persons.
With a prevalence of 25-72%, sensorineural hearing loss was found to be the most common type in RA patients. Results of pure tone audiometry revealed that patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis have a high prevalence hearing loss in all frequencies.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic, inflammatory disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and limited motion and function of many joints. The small joints in the hands and feet tend to be most involved. The auditory system is known to be involved during the course of disease in RA patients, but the association of hearing impairment and RA has not previously been clearly defined.
Treatment of hearing loss in RA patients
Hearing impaired patients suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis may benefit from the use of different types of hearing aids and implantable devices. In addition anti-oxidants (eg. vitamin E) may play a protective role for the inner ear.
According to the study, which was published in The Open Rheumatology Journal, patients with RA should have audiometric tests and Transiently Evoked Otoacoustic Emmisions (TEOAEs) test performed regularly.