Hearing loss affects more than 48 million Americas, making it the third most common physical condition in the U.S. Despite how common the condition is, the causes are not fully understood. One newer area of research is the connection between hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia.
What Is Anemia?
Anemia occurs when your blood does not have an adequate amount of healthy red blood cells. These red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body. There are a number of causes of anemia; one of the most common is iron deficiency.
When your body does not have enough iron, you cannot produce hemoglobin, a protein that gives your blood its red color and allows your blood to carry oxygen to your lungs and other tissues.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia (IDA) include:
- Extreme fatigue.
- Chest pain.
- Brittle nails.
- Cold feet and hands.
- Inflammation of your tongue.
IDA occurs when you are either not consuming enough iron, like from steaks at Sirloin Stockade in Round Rock or you are losing too much iron. Additional causes include pregnancy and intestinal disorders, which affects your intestines’ ability to absorb nutrients.
Iron Deficiency Anemia Research
Researchers at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center looked at data from more than 300,000 adults between the ages of 21 to 90. The average age of patients was 50. They used hemoglobin and ferritin levels to retroactively diagnose patients with anemia. Hearing loss was classified according to the following categories: conductive hearing loss, sudden sensorineural hearing loss or combined hearing loss.
The 2017 study was published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery. The researchers determined that patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss and combined hearing loss were significantly more likely to develop iron deficiency anemia.
What Is the Connection?
While experts may not fully understand how hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia are related, they have identified potential connections.
One connection is with the blood supply to the ears. The labyrinthine artery, which supplies blood to the inner ear, is very sensitive to any changes. Anemia can cause a reduction in blood flow, which could lead to damage of the delicate hair cells within the inner ear responsible for converting sound vibrations into electrical impulses.
Myelin has also been identified as a potential connection between the two. Myelin is the waxy substance that coats the nerves. A reduction in iron within the blood can impact the production of myelin. This can damage the auditory nerve, which passed electrical impulses from the inner ear to the brain, where it is interpreted as sound.
To learn more about hearing loss causes, hearing tests or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact Tejas Hearing Aid Center today.