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How Hearing Loss May Be Linked to Arthritis

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Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune disease that primarily affects the joints, causing inflammation and pain. Although there is currently no cure, there are medications that can alleviate some of the symptoms. If the inflammation is allowed to persist over long periods of time, the joints may become irreversibly damaged. Now, medical experts and scientist also believe a connection between RA and hearing loss may exist. Read on to learn more, presented by Home Care Assistance of Douglas County.

The Connection to Hearing Impairment

Besides degeneration of joints, hearing is also adversely affected in many with this disease because of the formation of rheumatoid nodules, degeneration of the bones in the ear, and neuropathy in the auditory nerves. Nearly half of all people diagnosed with RA experience some degree of hearing impairment, and sensorineural hearing loss is the most common. Other factors can contribute as well, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and previous exposure to high levels of noise.

Medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are two main types of medicines used to treat RA. They typically are referred to in their shortened forms, NSAIDS or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and DMARD, or the disease modifying anti-rheumatoid drug. Some of these medications are believed to cause damage to the hair-like structures in the cochlea that detect, differentiate, and relay varying frequencies of sound. Hearing loss is one of the possible side effects commonly listed for NSAIDS, so caution must be exercised and hearing should be frequently tested to monitor for reductions in auditory acuity.

How Age and Gender Plays a Role

Seniors with RA are far more likely to suffer from related hearing impairment, especially in cases where the disease has been persistently troublesome. Females tend to develop these problems sooner than men, however, both genders have a much greater chance of losing their hearing at a younger age than the rest of the population. This is why it is important that everyone with RA as well as their loved ones and caregivers remain mindful of this potential issue. 

While we are known for our comprehensive dementia care Douglas County families trust, we offer flexible in-home care for seniors who need additional support to remain comfortable, independent, and safe at home. Give us a call at 720-287-1685 to learn more.