A recent study finds a positive association between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss. In fact, hearing loss is nearly two and a half times as high for those with anemia. Anemia is the most common blood condition in the U.S. and occurs when blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Iron deficiency anemia happens when there is a lack of the mineral iron in the body. Iron is needed for the production of hemoglobin, which in turn transports oxygen to the body’s organs.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 300,000 men and women ages 21 to 90. Nearly 2,300 of the participants had iron deficiency anemia. The risk for sensorineural hearing loss, the type of hearing loss linked to problems in the nerves of the inner ear, was 82 percent higher in those with iron deficiency anemia. There was also a slight increase of risk for conductive hearing loss, caused by problems in the ear canal, eardrum or bones in the middle of the ear.
Study authors believe that iron deficiency may reduce blood flow to the inner ear, affecting the nerve cells that transmit sound to the brain. If you have iron deficiency anemia, talk to your doctor about changes in your diet or about taking an iron supplement.
Source: Schieffer K, Chuang C, Connor J. Association of iron deficiency anemia with hearing loss in US adults. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg, Published online December 29, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2016.3631.