Research shows that osteoporosis increases the likelihood of developing hearing loss. Specifically, osteoporosis affects bones throughout the body, including the small ones responsible for conducting incoming sounds in the middle ear. When these bones start to waste away, it affects sound detection in the inner ear.

Unfortunately, these bones may be particularly susceptible. They are the smallest in the body, and even slight structural changes can affect how they transmit sounds. Osteoporosis is a condition that affects one in four women and one in 20 men over the age of 65. It becomes a greater risk as adults age. Therefore, monitoring its effect on hearing loss is critical for a large chunk of the adult population.

How Osteoporosis Affects the Body

Bones are living tissue, just like every part of the body. As such, they regularly renew themselves, constantly being absorbed and then replaced by new tissues. In youth, this process occurs rapidly. However, as people age, it happens more slowly. Over time, patients lose bone mass faster than their bodies produce it. Medics call this condition, osteoporosis.

Unfortunately, osteoporosis can have significant negative side effects. It makes bones weaker, increasing the chance of breakage. And it tends to specifically affect the hips and spine, areas of the body that are hard to treat.

Because there are bones in the ear, osteoporosis affects these, too. Over time, they become smaller and less dense, harming their ability to translate incoming sounds into auditory signals for processing in the brain.

The Relationship Between Osteoporosis and Hearing Loss

The bones in the middle ear amplify the sounds coming from the ear drum, ready for translation by the cochlear. The system requires them to move sound waves efficiently. During osteoporosis, though, they begin to lose mass, and their shape changes. This process impairs hearing, affecting the amplitude of the sound waves reaching the cochlear.

Studies show a statistical correlation between hearing loss and osteoporosis. Researchers reporting in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2015 found that people with osteoporosis were around 76% more likely to develop hearing loss. Women were at particular risk, and 86% more likely to get the condition.

The researchers concluded that osteoporosis wasn’t just a condition of the bones. Rather, they argued, it was a cardio- and cerebrovascular condition that affects multiple organ systems as the body ages, including the ears. Ultimately, the study highlighted the additional effects that osteoporosis can have, beyond increasing fracture risk.

How to Protect Your Hearing If You Have Osteoporosis

Given that osteoporosis raises the risk of hearing loss considerably, patients with the condition need to take steps to protect themselves. It is important to be proactive.

Here are some of the things that you should do if you have this condition:

Go for Regular Hearing Tests

Hearing tests can detect hearing loss almost as soon as it starts. Audiograms show you precisely which frequencies you’re struggling with in the form of a chart. For some people, trouble starts at the high end, while for others, it can be problems hearing noises across the entire range.

Most hearing loss tests come back negative. In other words, they confirm that your hearing is still healthy and functioning as normal. However, if there is an issue, audiograms let you proceed rapidly with management and treatment.

You should get a hearing test at least once per year if you have osteoporosis, regardless of your chronological age. This way, you can catch issues early.

Wear Hearing Protection

Loud noises can damage the delicate structures of the middle ear, including the bones that conduct sound to the cochlear. Therefore, if you have osteoporosis, ensure that you wear hearing protection in loud environments, particularly if you have occupational exposure. Earmuffs and earplugs can reduce the intensity of incoming sounds by 20dBs or more.

Don’t Listen to Loud Music Through Headphones

Lastly, you should avoid listening to loud music through headphones. Listening on high volume is pleasurable, so you may expose yourself to it for longer than usual. If you are trying to block out other noises in your environment, use noise-canceling headphones. These let you listen to music at the same fidelity at lower volume.

Contact Us Today

If you have osteoporosis, it is a good policy to work with an audiologist. They can detect hearing loss early and reduce the risk of secondary complications, such as tinnitus. If you want to protect yourself, get in touch with Clifton Springs Hearing Center today on 315-496-4314. We can work with you to monitor your hearing and provide management and treatment when you need it.

Tags: hearing loss & osteoporosis