It isn’t a new theory that rheumatoid arthritis is somehow connected to hearing impairment. Rheumatoid arthritis, or commonly referred to as RA is believed to affect the ears in a few different ways. With up to 72% of people who suffer from RA also suffering from hearing loss, it is no shock that researchers have been trying to determine how to prevent RA associated hearing loss. However, the very nature of RA which causes the immune system to mistakenly attack tissue, lends itself to damaging more than just joints. While RA cannot be cured, it can be controlled with medication, although side-effects of that same medication may cause further hearing impairment.
The new study published in the Bentham Open, is now connecting RA, hearing loss, alcohol and smoking together. RA commonly attacks the cochlea resulting in sensorineural hearing loss. Inhaling smoke both actively and passively has also been shown to affect hearing and the cochlea. Alcohol consumption can increase RA symptom(s), meaning that it can also increase a person’s risk of suffering from RA related hearing loss due to damage within the cochlea. The study showed that factors such as length of time a person had suffered from RA also played a role in how likely they were to suffer from a hearing impairment, but it also showed that smoking and alcohol consumption whether heavy or mild, played a large role in increased risk of suffering from hearing impairment. Many doctors are now recommending that people who suffer from RA should avoid alcohol consumption and should quit smoking to avoid causing or worsening existing hearing impairments. They also recommend having their hearing regularly tested to check for any auditory changes rather than testing years later.  This will also allow the hearing healthcare professional to properly treat the hearing loss and give the patient the best immediate outcome.  While hearing impairments from RA are not curable, they can be prevented and managed after the fact with proper fitted hearing aids and accessories.
If you or a loved one has RA and would like to have a hearing test or you are looking for hearing aids within the western New York area, contact us today. We offer convenient locations and friendly staff to help walk you through your options.