Hearing loss is a common condition that millions of Americans deal with every year. Many different factors can both cause hearing loss and increase your risk of developing it. Some research has indicated that having an iron deficiency may worsen your hearing health.
Types of Hearing Loss
Though you might assume all hearing loss is the same, there are actually three basic categories of hearing loss, including sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and mixed or combined hearing loss.
- Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL): SNHL is the most common type of hearing loss and occurs when the inner ear or auditory nerve is damaged.
- Conductive hearing loss: This type of hearing loss occurs when an issue in the outer or middle ear (such as a blockage or fluid buildup) prevents sound from reaching the inner ear.
- Combined/mixed hearing loss: This can occur when a person has both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Study Finds Anemia Associated with Different Types of Hearing Loss
One cohort study examined the health records of over 300,000 adults between the ages of 21–90. Researchers compared rates of iron deficiency anemia (IDA), sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and conductive hearing loss to see if there was any connection.
The results showed that IDA was associated with both sensorineural hearing loss and combined hearing loss.
How Does Anemia Affect Hearing Health?
Researchers are unsure why the association exists and emphasize that more research needs to be done to understand the mechanisms behind it. However, there are several thoughts. One is that the inner ear is sensitive to reduced blood flow, and anemia can cause poor circulation. This lack of blood can cause damage to the hair cells located in the ear, which can lead to hearing loss.
Additionally, an iron deficiency may break down myelin, which is an insulating substance that protects your nerves. If the myelin around your auditory nerve becomes compromised, it could potentially lead to hearing loss.
What Are the Next Steps?
If you’re concerned about your iron levels, visit your doctor. IDA can be identified with a simple blood test, and your doctor can prescribe supplements, dietary changes and other treatment options depending on what’s causing your anemia.
If you are concerned your low iron levels may be affecting your hearing health, schedule an appointment with an audiologist. They can examine your ears, administer a hearing test and, if hearing loss is discovered, recommend appropriate treatment options like hearing aids.
Hearing aids can make listening easier in any environment, whether it’s the office, watching TV at home or enjoying a meal out with friends at Smoke House Restaurant.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact Sound Advice today.