There are many health issues that can lead to hearing loss. Is Rheumatoid Arthritis one of them?
The short answer is, probably.
In the last decade, there have been several studies that show a more than slight chance that people who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis are quite likely to suffer from hearing loss.
The unfortunate thing about Rheumatoid Arthritis is that it can affect any area of the body. That includes the inner workings of the ears.
This can be caused by inflammation in the cartilage - a hallmark problem for those suffering with RA.
It can be caused by the medications taken to alleviate pain and discomfort. In fact, even over-the-counter pain-killers have been shown to cause an increased risk of hearing loss in those suffering with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is speculated that this is due to decreased blood flow to the cochlea.
If you smoke AND you have RA, your chances of losing your hearing are even greater. According to a recent study, “Nicotine-related vasoconstriction and subsequent decrease in the oxygen concentration, due to cigarette smoking, can harm external hair cells and results in declining cochlear function.”
Additionally, Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune condition. And generally speaking, it’s been noticed that if you have one autoimmune condition, you are likely to have more. One that has been tied to RA is Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease. According to the American Hearing Foundation, autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED) develops when the immune system attacks the inner ear. A symptom of AIED is worsening hearing loss. You may also notice dizziness and ringing in your ears.
The short answer is...
There is no absolutely, definite, smoking-gun answer to the question. But it is likely that those suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis will notice at least a small degree of hearing loss.
If you suspect you might not be hearing as well as you could, we encourage you to give us a call. Make an appointment. Change your life.