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Iron Deficiency Anemia Linked To Hearing Loss: JAMA Study

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According to a recent research, hearing loss in people may be associated with iron deficiency anemia (IDA), which is a combination of deficiency of red blood cells and iron in the human body.

Link Between Hearing Loss And IDA

A study was conducted in adults in the United States aged between 21 and 90 years to identify the relationship between IDA and hearing loss. It was inferred that people suffering from IDA are twice likely to suffer from hearing loss than people that don't have the blood disorder. The link between IDA and hearing loss was found to be predominantly sturdy for two kinds of hearing loss – sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and conductive hearing loss (CHL).

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, SNHL happens when the inner ear or the nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain is destroyed. On the other hand, CHL happens when sounds are not conducted properly from the outer ear to the middle ear or the eardrum.

Combined hearing loss is the combination of the duo. SNHL is usually considered to be a permanent kind of hearing loss.

Iron Deficiency Can Damage Inner Ear Hair Cells

According to Dr. David Haynes, a professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, many earlier researches including the current study suggest that iron deficiency could be one of the factors that could be causing hearing loss.

"Overall, 1.6 percent of the general population had hearing loss, while 3.4 percent of individuals with iron deficiency anemia had hearing loss," said the study's author, Kathleen Schieffer, as reported in WebMD.

Peter Steyger, ENT specialist at Oregon Hearing Research Center, said that low iron levels can interrupt the workings of the cells, or even slay them. If this occurs in the ear, i.e. damaging the hair cells of the inner ear may lead to hearing loss. Unlike other body organs, if the hair cells present in the inner ear are killed, they can't be reinstated to re-establish the auditory function.

Correcting IDA Might Improve Hearing

The researchers suggest that if IDA takes part in causing hearing loss, it might be possible to improve hearing by correcting the iron deficiency condition.

According to Schieffer, the finding only depicts a probable association between IDA and hearing loss and currently there is no clear evidence to confirm that treating IDA will retain hearing abilities.

Further studies are required to know whether screening and treatment of IDA could have an impact in people suffering from hearing loss.

The paper is published in the JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery journal.

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