According to a new study, those who experience sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing intermittently stops and starts and usually includes loud snoring, may have a higher risk of developing hearing difficulties.
Presented at the American Thoracic Society’s 2014 International Conference, the research, headed by Dr. Amit Chopra, M.D., of the Albany Medical Center in New York, focused on 13,967 participants. The roughly 10 percent with sleep apnea were found to have a 90 percent increased risk of experiencing low-frequency hearing difficulties, a 31 percent increased risk of experiencing high-frequency hearing difficulties, and a 38 percent increased risk of experiencing combined high-and-low frequency hearing difficulties.
According to Dr. Chopra, there are several possible reasons for this correlation that must be studied further.
“Potential pathways linking sleep apnea and hearing impairment may include adverse effects of sleep apnea on vascular supply to the cochlea via inflammation and vascular remodeling or noise trauma from snoring,” said Dr. Chopra.
Many other serious conditions have been linked with untreated hearing loss, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, iron deficiency, diabetes, and depression.