Links Found Between Hearing Health and Bone & Joint Health

Did you know that hearing health is directly related to overall health and wellness? Did you know that recent research has linked bone and joint health and hearing health?

Bone and Joint Action week is held annually October 12-20. The goal of the global initiative is to raise awareness on the prevention, management, and treatment of bone and joint disorders including arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, and trauma. In the United States, bone and joint conditions are the most common cause of long term pain and physical disability.

And now, studies show that hearing health and bone health are related. Studies have found that patients living with osteoporosis are more likely to experience sensorineural hearing loss, the most common type of hearing loss today. Those living with osteoporosis show a higher incidence of sensorineural hearing loss and are also more likely to report experiencing tinnitus. Metabolic changes as well as degeneration of the three bones in the middle ear are thought to contribute to hearing loss in individuals with osteoporosis.

Low body mass density has also been linked to conductive hearing loss. Researchers found that bone mass density (BMD) has a strong inverse correlation with conductive hearing loss. Simply stated, the lower the BMD, the more common and severe the hearing loss. In fact, all osteoporotic women in this study had hearing loss, regardless of age. The significant relationship between the two suggests that diagnosis of hearing loss could be an early predictor of osteoporosis in women, and vice versa. 

In a 2006 study, researchers discovered a possible link between osteoporosis and otosclerosis. Osteoporosis is the degeneration of bony tissue that can cause lose of bone density which can increase the risk of bone fractures. While, otosclerosis is a bone condition that affects the middle ear and subsequently results in conductive hearing loss. The conductive hearing loss is caused by the hardening of the stapes, a bone in the middle ear about the size of a grain of rice. An abnormal overgrowth of bony tissue can cause the bones in the middle ear to fuse together.

A research study published in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology (August 2004) explored the clinical relationship between osteoporosis and otosclerosis citing a common gene COL1A1 associated with both conditions. Out of 100 research participants, 15 were found to have diagnoses of both conditions. The study showed a significant clinical association between the conditions. 

In light of the relationship between hearing health and bone and joint health, you can keep both healthy by following the following these recommendations from The National Osteoporosis Foundation:

  1. Get enough calcium and vitamin D and eat a well balanced diet.
  2. Engage in regular exercise.
  3. Eat foods that are good for bone health, such as fruits and vegetables.
  4. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol to 2-3 drinks a day. 

You’re never too young or old to improve your health. Adopting healthy habits now can ensure healthy bones, joints, and hearing for a lifetime.

   

Sources

Babich, M., Hoffmeister, D. & Doughty, A. (2009). Osteoporosis and Conductive Hearing Loss_ A Novel Model of Clinical Correlation. PHILICA.COM Article number 148. Retrieved from: http://philica.com/display_article.php?article_id=148

Kahveci OK1, Demirdal US, Yücedag F, Cerci U. (2014) Patients with osteoporosis have higher incidence of sensorineural hearing loss. Clin Otolaryngol. 2014 Jun;39(3):145-9. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24716511

Shafter, D. N. (2006). Researchers Investigate Link Between Hearing Loss and Osteoporosis. The ASHA Leader, 11(5). doi:10.1044/leader.RIB.11102006.5

 

 

 

 

By Beth McCormick, Au.D.

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