To be able to hear properly, your ears need a supply of oxygen-rich blood. Lately, more evidence is emerging that shows that hearing loss and iron deficiency are linked.
What is Anemia (Iron Deficiency)?
Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) occurs when the body lacks sufficient iron, leading to low hemoglobin levels. Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. Iron deficiency can also impact cells and their function, potentially leading to hearing loss if it affects cells in the inner ear.
The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Iron Deficiency
A recent study conducted by Pennsylvania State University has discovered a noteworthy connection between iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and hearing loss. The study, published in the highly respected JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery journal, analyzed medical records of over 305,000 adults between the ages of 21 and 90, with an average age of 50. Out of the participants, 0.7% had IDA, and 1.6% of those with anemia were found to have mixed hearing loss.
The head researcher, Kathleen M. Schieffer, concluded that “an association exists between IDA in adults and hearing loss.” The study found that the risk of sensorineural hearing loss is 1.82 times higher, and the risk of mixed hearing loss is 2.41 times higher in people with IDA. This finding is significant because sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss and occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or the nerve pathway that transmits sound from the inner ear to the brain. Accordingly, the study emphasizes the importance of blood screening in promptly diagnosing IDA. Early detection and treatment of IDA can prevent further complications, including hearing loss. The findings of this study also highlight the need for further research to understand the underlying mechanisms that connect IDA and hearing loss. This study adds to the growing evidence suggesting that maintaining healthy iron levels can positively impact overall health outcomes.
Iron Deficiency Anemia Symptoms
Iron deficiency can cause extreme fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headaches, and light-headedness. Patients may also experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or a fast heartbeat. Brittle nails, swollen or sore tongue, poor appetite, and cravings for non-nutritive substances like ice or starch are common symptoms.
The auditory system needs iron to function properly. If you are experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency anemia or changes in your hearing health, seeking advice from a healthcare specialist is paramount. If you have been experiencing the symptoms of iron deficiency, call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our healthcare specialists.