- Diagnosing and treating iron deficiency anemia may positively affect the overall health status of adults with hearing loss.
- Understanding of the association between IDA and all types of hearing loss may help to open new possibilities for early identification and appropriate treatment.
Hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia (IDA) are associated with each other, according to a study published online by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
Kathleen M. Schieffer, B.S., of the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pa., and colleagues examined the association between sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia in adults ages 21 to 90 years in the United States.
Using data obtained from deidentified electronic medical records from the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., iron deficiency anemia was determined by low hemoglobin and ferritin levels for age and sex in 305,339 adults ages 21 to 90 years; associations between hearing loss and IDA were evaluated.
Depending on which part of the hearing system is affected, hearing loss is categorised as conductive, sensorineural or a mixture of both. Conductive hearing loss is caused by blockage or damage in the outer ear, middle ear or both. It leads to a loss of loudness.
Some of the causes of a conductive hearing loss include ear infections, perforated eardrum or blockage of the ear canal by wax or foreign objects. The degree of a conductive hearing loss varies, but you cannot go completely deaf. A conductive hearing loss can often be treated by medical or surgical means.
Sensorineural hearing loss is a result of damage to, or a malfunction of, the cochlea (the sensory part) or the hearing nerve (the neural part). It results in a loss of loudness as well as a lack of clarity. It can be caused by the ageing process, excessive noise exposure, diseases such as meningitis or Meniere's disease, and viruses such as mumps or measles. There is rarely any medical treatment for sensorineural hearing loss, so it is permanent and hearing devices are often recommended.
Of the patients in the study population, 43 percent were men; average age was 50 years. There was a 1.6 percent prevalence of combined hearing loss, that is, a combination of conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, deafness, and unspecified hearing loss and 0.7 percent prevalence of IDA.
Both sensorineural hearing loss present in 1.1 percent of individuals with IDA and combined hearing loss present in 3.4 percent were significantly associated with IDA. Analysis confirmed increased odds of SNHL and combined hearing loss among adults with IDA.
"An association exists between IDA in adults and hearing loss. The next steps are to better understand this correlation and whether promptly diagnosing and treating IDA may positively affect the overall health status of adults with hearing loss," the authors write.
- Kathleen M. Schieffer et al., Iron deficiency anemia associated with hearing loss, JAMA Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery (2016).