Hearing loss is increasing in America as the population ages, with data indicating that about 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. In recent years, research has shown that you may be at an increased risk of hearing impairment if you have hearing loss. However, many factors affect hearing loss due to rheumatoid arthritis, including the patient’s age and environmental characteristics.

Why Do You Experience Hearing Loss with Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Several studies have established links between trouble hearing and rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the possibilities identified include:

  • Your blood vessels may become inflamed as a severe complication of rheumatoid arthritis. This inflammation can damage your hair cells’ ability to transport sound to your brain and auditory nerve.
  • Damage to the joints between small bones in the ear can be destroyed by rheumatoid arthritis, just like all joints in other parts of the body.
  • Rheumatoid nodules, typically located at pressure points beneath the skin, can sometimes develop in the ears and interfere with hearing.
  • Your body overproduces antibody and antigen clusters if you have rheumatoid arthritis, and deposits of these clusters on your inner ear’s hair cells can destroy the cells leading to hearing loss.
  • Drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis can also induce hearing loss. A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed that women who take common painkillers like acetaminophen and Ibuprofen to treat rheumatoid arthritis for two or more days weekly are more likely to develop hearing loss. These over-the-counter painkillers are ototoxic in massive and continuous doses, damaging inner ear nerves in the long run.

Types of Hearing Loss Due to Rheumatoid Arthritis

A 2016 review reported sensorineural hearing loss as the most widespread hearing loss in people with rheumatoid arthritis, affecting 72% of people in some studies. Sensorineural hearing loss may occur due to problems with the nerve pathways that transmit sound to the brain. You may also experience this hearing loss if your inner ear’s tiny hairs are damaged.

Furthermore, people with rheumatoid arthritis may also experience conductive hearing loss. Some people also report mixed hearing loss in rare cases, combining both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.

Sudden deafness is another form of hearing loss you may experience due to rheumatoid arthritis. People over 50 years old are likely to develop this unexplained and quick hearing loss that typically affects only one ear.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Knowing there’s a problem with your hearing is the all-important first step to getting the proper treatment. Generally, trouble carrying on conversations in settings with some background noise is a crucial indicator of sub-par hearing. Additionally, a ringing in your ear or a sensation that something is blocking or stuck in it, may also indicate hearing loss.

What’s more, you may experience difficulty hearing particular words during conversations or may need things to be frequently repeated to you. As such, your best bet is to consult an audiologist if you notice any of these symptoms. An audiologist will perform comprehensive hearing tests to detect your hearing loss and recommend the right treatment plan for you.

How Does an Audiologist Evaluate and Treat Hearing Loss?

Rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t alter how your audiologist will evaluate your hearing, although your test will be more thorough than a simple pass or fail screening test. As such, your examination will likely include assessing how well you understand words spoken at varying volumes and in different environments.

You may also undergo extended high-frequency audiometry, a test that identifies arthritis-related hearing loss more quickly than other standardized tests. This test detects some forms of hearing loss before they affect speech comprehension. Also, your treatment options for hearing loss will typically include surgery, cochlear implants and the removal of earwax. In-the-ear, behind-the-ear and in-the-canal hearing aids may also improve your hearing.

Why choose Sommerville Audiology & Hearing Aid Center?

Here at Sommerville, our caring staff adopts a patient-centered approach from consultations to picking the right hearing aid, helping you improve your hearing. Also, we are committed to offering effective treatment options, leading testing methods and the best hearing technology.

Call us today at 586-298-3788 to learn more! We can’t wait to help you!