Low Iron Levels may Cause Hearing Loss

Hearing loss may be linked to iron deficiency anemia,according to a study. The study found that people with iron deficiency anemia have more than twice the rate of hearing loss as people without the blood disorder.

For this study, using data obtained from deidentified electronic medical records from the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., iron deficiency anemia was determined by low hemoglobin and ferritin levels for age and sex in 305,339 adults ages 21 to 90 years; associations between hearing loss and IDA were evaluated.

The researchers found that the prevalence of combined hearing loss was 1.6 percent and the prevalence of IDA was 0.7 percent. SNHL (present in 1.1 percent of those with IDA) and combined hearing loss (present in 3.4 percent of those with IDA) were significantly associated with IDA (P = 0.005 and P < 0.001, respectively). After adjustment for sex, the odds of SNHL and combined hearing loss were increased among adults with IDA (adjusted odds ratios, 1.82 and 2.41, respectively).

“Iron deficiency anemia was associated with SNHL and combined hearing loss in a population of adult patients,” the authors write. “Further research is needed to better understand the potential links between IDA and hearing loss and whether screening and treatment of IDA in adults could have clinical implications in patients with hearing loss.”

In the study, adults who had iron deficiency anemia were more than twice as likely to develop a specific type of hearing loss, called combined hearing loss, compared with those who did not have iron deficiency anemia, according to the study. Based on the medical records.

The authors noted that the findings suggest that there is an association between iron deficiency anemia and certain types of hearing loss, and that the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. In addition, there were several limitations to the study, they noted. For example, although the researchers were able to adjust the results to account for differences between the sexes, they were not able to account for other risk factors for hearing loss, such as smoking status, high blood pressure and diabetes. More research is needed to tease out the possible effects of these other factors.

Iron deficiency anemia can be treated easily with iron supplements, so future studies should focus on whether this can help prevent hearing loss, the researchers wrote.