Osteoporosis and sudden hearing loss: Is there a connection?

Hearing loss could be linked to bone demineralization.

A new study may link osteoporosis to sudden, temporary hearing loss.

Researchers at Chi Mei Medical Center in Tainan City, Taiwan, recently published an article in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism wherein they studied 10,000 people with osteoporosis and discovered patients had a 76 percent higher risk of developing sudden deafness, compared with nearly 32,000 people without the bone condition.

"Sometimes, reasons for sudden sensorineural hearing loss are not readily apparent."

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), unlike partial deafness due to ear wax buildup, can occur due to a variety of reasons. According to Rush University Medical Center, high platelet count, blockage in the cochlear artery and autoimmune inner ear disease are also reasons a person may experience this sudden loss of hearing. For the majority of cases, however, the reasons are not readily apparent. Doctors often prescribe oral antibiotics in these cases. A possible link between sensorineural hearing loss and osteoporosis could help researchers better understand how to diagnose and treat the hearing loss.

"A growing body of evidence indicates that osteoporosis affects not only bone health, but the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems," said Dr. Kai-Jen Tien, one of the study's authors. "Our findings suggest sudden sensorineural hearing loss can be another broader health problem connected to osteoporosis."

Osteoporosis, which according to the National Institutes of Health affects more than 40 million Americans, is a condition involving weakened, even brittle bones. The NIH estimates half of women and one-fourth of men over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Small, thin women are at greater risk than men, and the condition tends to run in families as well.

It's possible for someone to suffer sudden <a  data-cke-saved-href=It's possible for someone to suffer sudden hearing loss due to breaking bones in the ear.

Research precedent

The link between osteoporosis and sudden deafness is a correlation, causation is difficult to prove, and the researchers didn't come to any hard-and-fast conclusions. However, according to the study's author, things that may contribute to this link include heart risk factors, inflammation and bone demineralization. If the three tiny bones of someone's inner ear break - which can occur due to the lack of bone density that occurs in patients with osteoporosis - there may be a loss of hearing, according to a study published in 2009.

This study is not alone with its assertion of a connection between the two conditions. A different study, published in 2014 in the Netherlands' medical journal Clinical Otolaryngology, postulated there may indeed be such a link, because study participants with the bone condition were more likely to have experienced sensorineural hearing loss. Researchers also concluded sudden hearing loss may be due to cochlear dysfunction.

If you are concerned about hearing loss, for yourself or someone important to you, the audiologists and hearing health care professionals at AccuQuest can help. Contact your local AccuQuest Hearing Center to schedule a hearing test and consulation.

If you want to learn more about how your hearing works, hearing loss and hearing aids, how hearing aids work or why it is a good idea to see an audiologist or hearing health care professional, click here to view and download your own copy of AccuQuest's Journey to Better Hearing.

A new study may link osteoporosis to sudden, temporary hearing loss.

Julie Pabst
Julie Pabst
Julie Pabst is an M.A., CCC-A Certified Audiologist at AccuQuest Hearing Centers. I chose Audiology to combine science, health care, technical skills and excellent customer service to best service those that do not hear correctly.