» The Link Between Hearing Loss and Osteoporosis

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Osteoporosis

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease that slowly and quietly weakens bones over time leading to increased risk of fracture. According to Osteoporosis Canada, over 2 million Canadians are affected by osteoporosis, and it is estimated that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will experience an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime.

Osteoporosis is a significant health concern in Canada, particularly as the population ages. Similarly, hearing loss has also been long associated with aging however, recent research has revealed that individuals with osteoporosis may be more likely to experience hearing loss.

The Link

One theory suggests that the tiny bones in the middle ear, known as the ossicles, may be affected by changes in bone density associated with osteoporosis. The ossicles play an important role in conducting sound vibrations from the outer ear to the inner ear, where they are converted into electrical signals that the brain then interprets as sound. Any damage or deterioration of these bones can lead to hearing impairment.

Studies have also identified shared risk factors between osteoporosis and hearing loss, such as aging, genetics, and hormonal imbalances. For example, one study found that postmenopausal women, who are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis due to hormonal changes, may also experience age-related hearing loss as a result of declining estrogen levels.

Other studies have linked osteoporosis to an increased risk of sudden hearing loss. While the connection between the two is still being studied and understood, some suggest that the changes in blood vessel structure and function found in osteoporosis, can potentially affect blood flow to the inner ear, resulting in sudden hearing loss.

Interestingly, certain medications used to treat osteoporosis, such as bisphosphonates, have been reported to cause adverse auditory effects such as tinnitus and hearing loss. The exact mechanism by which bisphosphonates can cause hearing loss is not fully understood. It’s important to note that hearing loss associated with bisphosphonate use is relatively rare and tends to occur in individuals who have been taking high doses of these medications for an extended period.

With these findings in mind, individuals with osteoporosis should be educated by their healthcare professionals on the importance of regularly monitoring their hearing health. In addition, lifestyle modifications, such as maintaining a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, engaging in regular exercise to support bone density, and avoiding exposure to loud noise, can all contribute to overall well-being and reduce the risk of developing both osteoporosis and hearing loss. Click for Osteoporosis Risk Factors.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, schedule an appointment with a registered audiologist for a diagnostic hearing assessment.

If you are over the age of 55, hearing testing every two years is recommended. Please contact our clinic to schedule your appointment.

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Blog Author

Lyndsay Bozec

REGISTERED AUDIOLOGIST, NSCASLP

Lyndsay is a passionate advocate for hearing health awareness and hearing preservation. Over the years she has delivered various hearing health presentations and hearing aid workshops for caregiver workshops across HRM.

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