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Sleep Apnea Leads to Hearing Loss

Jun 26, 2014 Sleep Apnea Leads to Hearing Loss

We’ve known for years that sleep apnea can affect your weight and cognitive functions. But did you know that it could affect your hearing, too? Find out more…

Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder where a person has pauses in their breathing, or has very shallow breathing, while they sleep. These pauses can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, and can happen frequently during the night. Sleep apnea leads to poor sleep quality, and if left untreated, it has been shown to contribute to heart attacks, strokes, obesity and diabetes. And now, sleep apnea has been connected to hearing loss.

Study Connects Sleep Apnea and Hearing Loss

A new study conducted by doctors at the Albany Medical Centre in New York looked at almost 14,000 participants, and found that almost 10 percent of them had at least moderate sleep apnea. The study focused mostly on Hispanic and Latino subjects, and a significant number of those who suffered from sleep apnea in the study also suffered from some form of hearing loss.

Sleep Apnea Associated With Hearing Loss

The study found that sleep apnea was independently associated with hearing loss with some startling numbers:

EFFECT OF SLEEP APNEA ON HEARING LOSS
Effect Type of Hearing Loss
31% increase High frequency hearing impairment
90% increase Low frequency hearing impairment
38% increase Combined high and low frequency hearing impairment


Other Factors Connected To Hearing Loss

The study found that that those participants who were overweight, or who self-reported that they either snored or had sleep apnea had higher incidences of hearing impairment.

How Does Sleep Apnea Lead To Hearing Loss?

While the doctors who presented the study findings didn’t have conclusive evidence of the reason that sleep apnea may cause hearing loss, they did speculate that the interrupted sleep of people with sleep apnea could lead to impaired blood supply to the cochlea, or inflammation in the ear. Either of these could lead to hearing loss. Noise from snoring could also lead to hearing loss.

Get Your Hearing Tested Today

While further study is being done on the connection between hearing loss and sleep apnea, it is imperative that those who suffer from sleep apnea – or who think they may suffer from sleep apnea – get their hearing tested with an  audiologist as soon as possible.

An Audiologist Can Help

An experienced audiologist will be able to diagnose any hearing loss, and work with your medical team to determine if sleep apnea is part of the problem. An audiologist will work with you to correct for the hearing loss with hearing aids if needed, and will be a vital part of your medical team to ensure that your sleep and your hearing stay healthy for the long term.

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