The Association Of Anemia and Hearing Deficiency Disorders
Your ears need oxygen-rich blood to be able to hear properly, and as of late more evidence is emerging that shows that anemia and hearing loss are linked; particularly for a common type of anemia linked to low levels of iron.
About Iron Deficiency, a.k.a. Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is a condition that occurs when there is a shortage of iron in the body. This leads to lower hemoglobin levels, a substance found in red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. Insufficient iron can also impact the function of cells. Hearing loss can occur if it affects the cells in the inner ear.
What are the Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia?
Iron deficiency can cause a range of symptoms, including extreme fatigue, weakness, dizziness, light-headedness, and headaches. People with this type of anemia may also experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or a fast heartbeat. Other common symptoms include brittle nails, swollen or sore tongues, poor appetite, and unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances like ice or starch.
The Connection Between Anemia and Hearing Loss
Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University conducted a study to assess the risk of hearing loss in individuals with iron deficiency anemia. The study, published in the JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery journal, aimed to improve early detection and appropriate treatment. The study analyzed the digitalized medical records of over 305,000 adults with an average age of 50, ranging from 21 to 90 years old. The participants were 43% men and 57% women, with 0.7% having iron deficiency anemia. Among those tested for hearing health, 1.6% had mixed hearing loss, a combination of sensorineural (SNL) and conductive hearing loss.
After analyzing data, it has been established that iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is associated with various forms of hearing loss. In particular, the study revealed that participants with anemia had a 1.1% chance of developing sensorineural hearing loss and a 3.4% chance of experiencing mixed hearing loss. Based on these findings, lead researcher Kathleen M. Schieffer has concluded a correlation between IDA in adults and hearing loss, and that additional investigation is necessary to determine whether early detection and treatment of IDA can enhance the overall health of adults with hearing loss.
Finally, the study concluded that the risk of sensorineural hearing loss is 1.82 times higher and the risk of mixed hearing loss 2.41 times higher in people with IDA. Consequently, blood screening is essential in promptly diagnosing iron deficiency anemia.
To sum up, iron is crucial for the proper function of the auditory system. If you experience symptoms of anemia or notice changes in your hearing health, it is recommended to consult a healthcare specialist.