Hearing loss can often be caused by a number of different diseases, usually as a side effect. For a while now, researchers have been studying the connection between hearing loss to rheumatoid arthritis also known as RA and have actually found higher rates of sensorineural hearing loss – a type of hearing loss usually caused by poor function of the hair cells in the cochlea – in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. So is there a link between this disease and hearing loss, or is the hearing loss just a side effect of the medication being used to treat it?

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that causes painful inflammation and deformities in people’s joints. In most cases, a person experiences pain or “discomfort” in their finger, wrists, feet and ankles, though it can affect all joints. This painful and progressive disease has treatment options, but like many medications, it can have ototoxic properties, which has been known to cause hearing damage.

Researchers will often debate whether the hearing loss is from the RA itself, or the medication used to treat it. One clinical trial found that patients with RA were much more likely to suffer from sensorineural hearing loss; out of the patients, 42% suffered from sensorineural hearing loss and RA. A control group from the study showed that only 15% suffered from sensorineural hearing loss that did not also have RA. However other researchers believe that the true cause of RA related hearing loss is due to the medications patients take to help ease their symptoms. Even OTC medications like ibuprofen can negatively impact your hearing, if you take it regularly for pain management. Medications used to help ease RA symptoms, such as ibuprofen, can reduce blood flow to the cochlea, which is important to your hearing. Once this damage has been sustained, it cannot be undone and many suffer from mild cases of hearing loss due to it.

Doctors can’t stress it enough; it is very important to have your hearing tested regularly, especially if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Living with untreated hearing loss for a long period of time can cause further hearing damage and can also bring about issues related to cognitive decline.

Get your hearing tested and prevent any further hearing loss problems. At Krista Szalc, Audiology, PLLC, we offer a variety of hearing care services including hearing testshearing aid services and tinnitus treatment. You can easily schedule an appointment with us online or via the phone. Contact us today and let us help you protect your hearing.