Hearing Loss & Rheumatoid Arthritis: What’s the Connection?

For those with rheumatoid arthritis, there’s a growing concern that this condition results in a higher risk of hearing loss. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, which attacks the body’s joints, causing joint inflammation, pain and fatigue. Nowadays, some researchers think that RA patients could be at risk for hearing loss, which they call sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). Some studies estimate that 42.7% of patients with RA experience this kind of hearing loss.

However, the link between the two isn’t yet substantiated. There are several valid theories for why RA patients may be affected by hearing loss. Today, we, TrueRemedies, will go over these possibilities to better understand how RA and hearing loss may be connected.

Is Hearing Loss Linked To Rheumatoid Arthritis?

I. The Link Between Hearing Loss And Rheumatoid Arthritis

1. Old Age

One variable in the link between RA and hearing loss is age. Many RA patients are seniors, and some level of hearing loss is expected with old age. However, the percentage of RA patients with hearing loss is significantly higher than the average population, so old age may not solely account for this strong link. But it’s one potential factor that deserves mentioning.

2. The Stress Of RA

Another theory is that RA patients perceive greater hearing loss because of the stress of their condition. This idea comes from a 2009 study exploring the initial relationship between RA and hearing loss. Researchers theorized that the emotional stress of RA could negatively impact patients’ perceptions of their health and hearing. This goes to show that perception is extremely vital in health.

3. RA Medication

Some researchers think that it’s not RA, but the medication used to treat it that could cause hearing loss. Since RA involves pain, doctors often prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which have been shown in studies to impact hearing. In high amounts, NSAIDs may be linked to a higher risk of hearing loss in both men and women. By using NSAIDs, RA patients may be more likely to experience hearing loss.

4. Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease (AIED) Resulting From RA

Patients with RA will experience weakened immune systems as the body attempts to fight off perfectly normal cells. Another theory about hearing loss involves getting an inner ear disease, as a result of a lowered immune system. AIED is known to cause hearing loss and could potentially arise from RA. While this theory may not apply to the majority of RA patients, it’s worth mentioning as a possibility.

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5. Environmental Factors

Other studies suggest that environmental factors may play a role in hearing loss for RA patients as well. Factors such as smoking, alcohol use, and noise could damage the ear further and cause hearing loss. This is especially true of regular alcohol use in RA patients. This means that the degree of hearing loss with RA may depend on lifestyle choices.

II. Why Is Hearing Loss With RA An Urgent Problem?

You may think that hearing loss is unfortunate for RA patients, but that it’s not harmful. Nothing could be further from the truth. In studies, hearing loss is often associated with cognitive decline, even for mild hearing loss. This means that hearing loss can make RA worse and eventually impact important faculties. Hearing loss is no small matter when it comes to RA, and it should be treated as an urgent problem.

III. How Can You Cope With Hearing Loss?

Once you experience hearing loss symptoms, you should contact your doctor to talk through your condition. There’s nothing shameful about hearing loss; it’s important to speak up so that your doctor can better care for you.

To help you cope with hearing loss, doctors often recommend these three steps:

  • The sooner, the better. Discuss the problem with your doctor as soon as possible. Don’t put it off because you don’t think it’s important, or you’re embarrassed about not being able to hear.
  • Try out hearing aids. If the hearing loss problem is affecting your quality of life, try out hearing aids. Hearing aid technology is excellent these days and can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life.
  • Stay away from the noise. Don’t put yourself in noisy situations. If you’re going out to eat, request a quiet table. At social events, try to find less noisy pockets to converse with other people. By avoiding noise, you’ll feel less frustrated by these difficult environments.

Final Takeaway

Remember that the link between hearing loss and rheumatoid arthritis isn’t entirely clear. While these theories are likely all part of a multivariable connection, it’s important to see your doctor whenever you’re experiencing hearing loss. Whatever the underlying reason, he or she can help you cope and find ways to make your life more comfortable. You heard that right! For other informative articles, you can go to our main News & Facts page.

When in doubt about your health, don’t hesitate to consult with a medical professional near you, or you can visit my clinic—Chiropractic Anchorage AK.

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