People who have osteoporosis face a higher risk of developing sudden deafness, according to new research published in the Endocrine Society´s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The study found that patients with osteoporosis were at 1.76 times the risk of developing sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) compared with patients without the bone disease.
UK charity Hearing Link describes SSHL as a rapid loss of hearing that occurs between a split second and three days. In the majority of cases only one ear is affected, but one in ten people who suffer sudden deafness experience it in both ears simultaneously.
Some people afflicted by SSHL recover their hearing within a few days without any treatment, while others may find their hearing improves either partially or totally over a period of a few weeks. For a minority their hearing never recovers.
Researchers in Taiwan used a randomised representative sample of individuals from the country´s National Health Insurance claims database. They examined medical records for 10,660 patients who were diagnosed with osteoporosis between 1998 and 2008 and compared them with 31,980 people who did not have the condition.
Among the participants who had osteoporosis, 91 were diagnosed with SSHL during the follow-up period. In the control group, which was triple the size, 155 people were diagnosed with SSHL.
The researchers concluded that patients with osteoporosis are at significantly greater risk of developing SSHL.
“A growing body of evidence indicates that osteoporosis affects not only bone health, but the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems,” said one of the study´s authors, Dr. Kai-Jen Tien of the Chi Mei Medical Center in Taiwan. “Our findings suggest sudden sensorineural hearing loss can be another broader health problem connected to osteoporosis.”