Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chromic autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack healthy tissues. The result is inflammation, pain, deformity of the affected areas and stiffness in the joints. Astudy conducted by the Arthritis Foundation found an overwhelming connection between rheumatoid arthritis and hearing loss, with a 42.7% correlation.
Hearing loss is the most common health-related issue, with up to 72% prevalence in rheumatoid arthritis (The Open Rheumatology Journal, Jan. 2016)
Rheumatoid Arthritis is associated with many other diseases that are also known to adversely affect hearing such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and kidney dysfunction.
Another link between rheumatoid arthritis and hearing loss is medications. Many medications are known to cause hearing loss. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen, which is often used to manage the pain of R.A., can cause hearing problems. A 2012 study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, showed that taking these pain medications six or seven times a week increased the risk of hearing loss by 24%. These painkillers, such as Advil, Motrin or Tylenol restrict blood flow to the inner ear. Blood carries oxygen and other nutrients throughout the body, so when less blood reaches the ear, the cells become damaged, resulting in loss of hearing.
What you can do
Get a baseline hearing test now. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your medications should be reviewed and your hearing monitored regularly for any associative changes.
Dr. Ronna Fisher, Au.D.
Founder & President
Hearing Health Center, Inc.