Hearing loss has been associated with poor health and potentially with treatable conditions such as iron deficiency anemia. A recently published study assesses the correlation between sensorineural and conductive hearing loss, and iron deficiency anemia in the US population.
Hearing loss has been reported among 15% of the US adult population, increasing in percentage by age. Potential risk factors for hearing loss include diabetes, tobacco use, and hypertension. A new study, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery looks into 2 categories of hearing loss: sudden sensorineural and conductive. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is identified as an immediate onset of hearing loss occurring within a 72-hour period. Conductive hearing loss is characterized by a conflict of the ear in being able to conduct sound waves. The study attempts to distinguish a particular correlation between the two types of hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia, a condition resulting in a depletion of red blood cells in the body.
Data for the study was collected from a sample of 305,339 adults between the age of 21 and 90 years old from January 2011 to October 2015. Patients with sickle cell anemia were excluded due to previously discovered correlations with hearing loss. Iron deficiency anemia was quantified by measuring hemoglobin and ferritin levels for the patients. Patients with hearing loss were categorized into sensorineural, conductive, or combined hearing loss. Chi-squared tests were used to compare data for the varying types of hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia.
Iron deficiency anemia was present in 0.7% of the population while the prevalence of hearing loss was 1.6%, 0.7%, and 0.2% for combined, sensorineural, and conductive hearing loss, respectively. Results indicated that sensorineural hearing loss and combined hearing loss were both significantly correlated with iron deficiency anemia. Previous research has identified associations between healthy dietary habits and improved hearing. The study suggests that treatment of iron deficiency anemia, carried out through intake of iron supplements, may have beneficial effects towards correlated sensorineural and combined hearing loss as well.
Although significantly pointing out an association between iron deficiency anemia and sensorineural or combined hearing loss, the study does not provide sufficient proof of simultaneous treatment of both conditions. Nevertheless, the research provides insightful information for potential treatment methods that could target both conditions together, reducing prevalence of iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss in a cost-efficient manner. The correlation also provides a lead for scientists and medical professionals, encouraging an understanding of the underlying biological connections between the two conditions.
Written By: Shrishti Ahuja, BSc