If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may also find yourself at risk for hearing loss. Sleep apnea affects millions of adults, resulting in poor sleep and general health problems. Apnea can cause generalized inflammation, cardiovascular and endocrine problems; these issues contribute to hearing loss.
A recent study of close to 14,000 subjects Latinos in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos found that sleep apnea was associated with a 31 percent increase in high frequency hearing impairment and a 90 percent increase in low frequency hearing impairment. These results, while preliminary and in need of further inquiry, highlight the dangers of sleep apnea.
One of the study’s researchers, Neomi Shah, summarizes these new findings, stating, “"Sleep apnea is more of a systemic and chronic disease than just something that happens when you're sleeping."
Since these findings demonstrate only a correlation between sleep apnea and hearing loss, other researchers urge caution when interpreting the findings.
Neuroscientist Rebecca Spencer states, "You wouldn't know if one comes before the other: sleep apnea appears before hearing loss, or hearing loss appears before sleep apnea and maybe they don't come together at all.”
Correlation does not equate to causation. However, this recent research indicates a possible link between sleep apnea and hearing loss. Therefore, our future understanding improves through more focused studies. We now know that there is the potential that treating sleep apnea may improve hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a difficult condition. The earlier your diagnosis, the better the prospects for successful treatment. If you have sleep apnea, get screened for hearing loss. The treatment you receive may improve your sleep and your hearing.
Source: CBS News