Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can bring pain and swelling in the joints, fatigue, weakness, and even lumps or redness on the skin. But did you know hearing loss is associated with RA?

Clinical trials have found higher rates of sensorineural hearing loss in patients with RA. Sensorineural hearing loss is usually called “nerve loss.” It’s when sound is not being passed efficiently through the inner ear to the brain. In one study, 42.7 percent of participants with RA suffered with a hearing loss that was overwhelmingly sensorineural. In comparison, only 15.9 of the control group for this study showed a hearing loss. Another study, by the Mayo Clinic, concluded that those with RA were more likely to perceive a hearing loss.

While the reason for the link between RA and hearing loss has not been pinpointed, the drugs used to treat the aches and pains of RA could be playing a role. Analgesics such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen that are used to reduce pain could reduce blood flow to the cochlea or deplete factors that protect it from damage. The American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who took these types of medication for two or more days per week were more likely to report a hearing loss. The more often these over the counter medicines were taken the more higher the risk of hearing loss.

If you suffer with RA, make certain to take your medicine as prescribed and talk to your doctor about any side effects you may be experiencing. Also be certain to report any new symptoms to your doctor. If you feel that your hearing has decreased, call Lemme Audiology at (814) 941-7770 to schedule your hearing evaluation. Your hearing evaluation will be able to determine the type and severity of your hearing loss and what options are available to you for better hearing. Subsequent hearing screenings will allow your audiologist to track your hearing health over time so any decline in your hearing can be detected.

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