Osteoporosis and Hearing Loss

Osteoporosis and Hearing Loss

In hearing health, hearing loss by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Laurie Duffy, M.S.

If you are dealing with osteoporosis, then there is a lot of added care you may do for your body already. Aside from making sure to get plenty of exercise, eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and avoiding heavy drinking or smoking to keep your bones healthy, now studies are suggesting that you should also monitor your hearing health closely. growing research suggests a link between this chronic bone density disease and hearing loss. 

What is Osteoporosis?

This bone disease affects an estimated 54 million people in the United States alone. Affecting half of all women 50 and older and one in four men, this condition slowly weakens bone density, making people more vulnerable to bone damage and breaks. This is due to a progressively lower bone mass. Those with osteoporosis suffer from low bone mass, putting them at risk of developing serious bone fractures, most commonly the hips, spine or wrists. 

These breaks can occur from a simple fall which a person with healthy bone mass could recover from easily. As people grow elderly it is understood that a break of this manner is much more difficult to recover from. Often there is no more than an unexpected sneeze which can trigger a lethal fall for someone with osteoporosis. 20 percent of elderly patients which suffer a hip breakage, pass away within a year.

Causes of Osteoporosis

Bone is living tissue which is constantly deteriorating and being regenerated. When you are young and healthy it is easy for the body to restore bone, keeping them strong and resilient. However, as we grow older many of us become susceptible to Osteoporosis.  There are some factors such as genetics which cannot be modified to prevent this chronic condition, however there are many factors we can modify through preventative measures throughout our life. Some of these are diet and exercise. 

For instance, a lifelong lack of calcium in your diet contributes to the development of osteoporosis. Prioritize high calcium foods such as dairy products, almonds, dark green leafy vegetables, beans and fish with bones. In addition to a calcium rich diet, regular exercise and avoiding excessive alcohol and tobacco can keep your bones strong and able to regenerate later in life. Other factors include monitoring your hormone levels and thyroid health can help you manage or prevent osteoporosis.

But How are Osteoporosis and Hearing Loss Connected?

To understand how this bone condition can affect your hearing ability it is important to understand how hearing works. When sound enters your ear canal it travels to the eardrum. The eardrum is actually a thin membrane connected to three of the smallest bones in the entire body, located in the  middle ear called ossicles. Because hearing ability is reliant on the ossicles, if these bones are damaged due to weakness it can cause sudden hearing loss. 

You may have fine hearing ability and suddenly experience a great loss due to the breakage of these delicate bones. A 2015 study examined a random representative sample of 1 million participants in Taiwan’s National Health Insurance program and found that those with osteoporosis had a 1.76-fold risk of experiencing sudden sensorineural hearing loss. 

What is Sudden Hearing Loss?

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss involves a very rapid hearing loss occurring instantaneously or over many days. It usually affects one ear, causing vertigo and ringing in the ear. If you experience sudden hearing loss in one ear it is important to contact an Otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) immediately. The most effective treatment most commonly involves a high dose of steroids with oxygen to increase circulation in the inner ear.

What Can You Do?

It is important to take care of your health no matter what your age. Make sure to stay active when you can, keep your heart rate up and eat a balanced diet full of calcium, to keep your bones healthy throughout your life. While the connection between sudden hearing loss and osteoporosis is not completely solidified, studies show that there is ample evidence suggesting that if you are dealing with osteoporosis, your risk for hearing loss is elevated. 

Make sure to have your hearing checked at least once a year to stay on top of your hearing health. Healthy hearing can help you stay active and prevent dangerous falls which can be devastating when living with osteoporosis. Make an appointment today!