Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints, usually accompanied by joint pain and stiffness. With arthritis, you may find repetitive motion activities such as tennis at Herb Martinez Park or typing to be painful or difficult.
Approximately 23.7% of adults in the United States have arthritis. This percentage increases in the presence of other chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. One infrequently discussed comorbidity of arthritis is hearing loss.
Let’s examine a couple of reasons why hearing loss and arthritis might co-occur.
Causes of Arthritis-Induced Hearing Loss
One study comparing 35 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with 35 non-arthritis controls found that hearing loss appeared in 60% of the RA group and only 34.28% of the control group. Common causes of arthritis-induced hearing loss include but are not limited to:
- Arthritis medication-induced hearing loss. People with arthritis often take ototoxic pain medications such as aspirin to manage the pain and swelling in their joints. Ototoxic drugs are medications that may result in hearing loss and tinnitus. Symptoms of ototoxic drugs may appear suddenly or gradually. If you’re taking ototoxic drugs, it is recommended to take a hearing test to establish baseline hearing. Identifying hearing loss early on will help your audiologist develop a treatment plan.
- Immune system-induced hearing loss. One potential cause of the higher prevalence of hearing loss in RA patients is a poor immune system response. With arthritis-induced hearing loss, the immune system targets the tissues of the inner ear and causes hearing damage.
What Are the Signs of Hearing Loss?
Identifying hearing loss early on can set you on the right path toward finding the best treatment plan. A couple signs of hearing loss to watch out for include but are not limited to:
- Misunderstanding words or phrases in conversation
- Straying away from social situations
- Frequently raising the volume on the TV
If you notice these signs in yourself or others, contact Southwestern Hearing & Balance today to schedule an appointment with one of our trusted audiologists for a hearing test.