According to studies, people with rheumatoid arthritis may have a higher risk of hearing loss than people without the disease. In addition to making controlling RA more difficult, hearing loss may make it more difficult for you to interact socially and follow conversations. Additionally, it can make you less inclined to adhere to your rheumatoid arthritis therapy, which might exacerbate your symptoms. Your risk of developing hearing loss could increase, according to a rheumatologist from Lonestar Rheumatology in Houston, if you:
- Have advanced RA
- Have had the disease a long time
- Don’t keep up with your treatment to control inflammation
However, you may safeguard your ears and control your RA with the assistance of your doctor. In addition, if you start to lose some hearing, your doctor might be able to help. Here are the connections between rheumatoid arthritis and hearing loss that we are aware of.
Between 25% and 75% of persons with rheumatoid arthritis experience sensorineural hearing loss, the most prevalent form associated with the disease. According to studies, people with RA have greater incidences of this type than people without rheumatoid arthritis. Tiny hair cells in the inner ear aid in your ability to hear. When such inner ear cells are harmed, sensorineural hearing loss results. It is the most typical form of long-term hearing loss. You might experience signs like:
- Muffled hearing
- Trouble understanding speech
- Sudden or steady hearing loss
- A full or stuffy feeling in your ear
- Ringing in the ear
Your doctor may put you under surveillance and do more hearing tests if you have this kind of hearing loss. Alternately, they might:
- Steroids pills or shots
- Hearing aids
The best course of action for you can be determined by an ENT specialist, often known as an otolaryngologist or an ear, nose, and throat doctor. Less frequently occurring in RA patients are two more types of hearing loss:
When sound has problems passing through the outer or middle ear and reaching the hearing portion of the inner ear, the cochlea, you have conductive hearing loss. The signs may resemble those of sensorineural type. Additionally, they could involve ear drainage and ear ache or tenderness. It can be reversed with prompt therapy. Surgery, hearing aids, and monitoring and testing are all available forms of treatment. When you experience both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss symptoms in the same ear, you have mixed hearing loss. Both sorts of treatment may be necessary. Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you have RA and some hearing loss.
How Is Hearing Loss Linked to Diseases Like RA?
An autoimmune condition is rheumatoid arthritis. There are a number of illnesses where your immune system misfires and accidentally attacks healthy tissues, causing inflammation. Some sufferers of autoimmune conditions, such as RA, also experience inner ear issues that result in sensorineural hearing loss. This illness is known by doctors as autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED). AIED can occur on its own, but about 20% of those who have it also have another autoimmune disease like RA. It is extremely uncommon, accounting for roughly 1% of all occurrences of hearing loss in the U.S. Typical signs of AIED include:
- Sensorineural hearing loss in both ears that gradually gets worse
- Hearing loss that isn’t always the same in both ears
- Dizziness or trouble balancing
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- A feeling of fullness in the ears
You will have rheumatoid arthritis symptoms like aching and swollen joints if you have both AIED and RA. Some remedies for AIED include:
- Drugs that work on your immune system
- Hearings aids or other listening devices
Are Certain Pain Meds Tied to Hearing Loss?
Over time, certain popular medications that are used to treat RA discomfort may also impair your hearing. According to one study, males who used aspirin, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines), or acetaminophen twice or more per week or more frequently than this were more likely to have hearing loss. According to the study, men under 60 had the highest risk. According to an another study, women who took NSAIDs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen two or more days a week were more likely to have hearing loss. For women under 50, the risk was greater, and it seemed to increase the more frequently they used either medication.
According to some experts, aspirin and acetaminophen may impair hearing by decreasing blood flow to the cochlea, a structure in the inner ear. According to one specialist, acetaminophen may also make your cochlea depleted of the protecting protein glutathione. If you regularly take any of these RA painkillers and believe you may have lost some hearing or have ringing in your ears, consult your doctor right away. They might advise you to use the drug less frequently, lessen the dose you take, or switch to a different medication. If painkillers are to blame for your hearing loss, this may be able to help.
Some other types of drugs that may affect hearing in people with arthritis are:
- Certain antibiotics, like neomycin, streptomycin, and paromomycin
- Some chemotherapy drugs, like bleomycin, carboplatin, and cisplatin
- Diuretics like bumetanide and furosemide
Talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of these medications. Don’t stop taking them unless the doctor tells you to.