People with osteoporosis are nearly twice as likely to develop sudden sensorineural hearing loss, or sudden deafness, than those without the condition, data published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Indicate.
“A growing body of evidence indicates that osteoporosis affects not only bone health, but the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems,” study researcher Kai-Jen Tien, MD, of the Chi Mei Medical Center in Taiwan, said in a press release. “Our findings suggest sudden sensorineural hearing loss can be another broader health problem connected to osteoporosis.”
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing that usually occurs in one ear and can happen all at once or over the course of several days. About 85% of those treated for the condition recover some hearing, so seeking immediate treatment is important, according to information in the release.
Previous studies have revealed an increased prevalence of sudden deafness in people with osteoporosis, although the risk for the condition remains undefined in this patient population.
To learn more, Tien and colleagues performed a retrospective cohort study of medical records of 10,660 Taiwan residents who were diagnosed with osteoporosis from 1999 to 2008. They then compared their records with those from 31,980 people without the condition.
The researchers used national insurance records to determine the number of participants diagnosed with sudden sensorineural hearing loss by the end of 2011.
According to the data, the incidence rates of sudden sensorineural hearing loss were 10.43 per 10,000 person-years in patients with osteoporosis and 5.93 per 10,000 person-years in those without osteoporosis. Risk for developing sensorineural hearing loss was 1.76 times higher among patients with osteoporosis than those without the condition.
Results also revealed significantly higher incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for sensorineural hearing loss in those aged 50 to 64 years (IRR=1.50) and those aged 65 years or older (IRR=2.33) and women (IRR=1.87). IRR was also borderline higher in osteoporosis patients with hypertension (IRR=1.59), the researchers reported.
Although researchers remain uncertain about the biological mechanism driving the link between osteoporosis and sudden sensorineural hearing loss, Tien cited cardiovascular risk factors, bone demineralization, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction as potential contributors.
“More people worldwide are suffering from osteoporosis, and our work shows they are at risk of sensorirneural hearing loss as well as bone fracture and other problems,” Tien said. “Patients who have osteoporosis should be aware they need to seek medical help immediately if they experience hearing loss.”