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Low Iron Levels In Iron Deficiency Anemia May Be Linked To Hearing Loss

Update Date: Jan 02, 2017 09:40 AM EST

Low iron levels in the blood could lead to a condition called iron deficiency anemia, which has been linked to various health complications. Now, scientists have found that having low iron levels in the body is linked to hearing loss.

In a new study, published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, the researchers at Pennsylvania State University analyzed data from the medical records of more than 300,000 adults in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The researchers wanted to look at the association between sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia in adults aged 21 to 90 years old. Of the study population, around 1.6 percent of participants were found to have combined hearing loss (a combination of conductive, sensorineural hearing loss, deafness and unspecified hearing loss. Approximately 0.7 percent were believed to have iron deficiency anemia (IDA).

Moreover, they found that the people with IDA were 2.4 times more likely to suffer from combined hearing loss compared to those who did not have IDA. Those with IDA were 1.8 times more likely to have sensorineural hearing loss. However, there was no link between IDA and conductive hearing loss.

"An association exists between IDA in adults and hearing loss. The next steps are to better understand this correlation and whether promptly diagnosing and treating IDA may positively affect the overall health status of adults with hearing loss," the authors of the study wrote as reported in a press release by Pennsylvania State University.

Types Of Hearing Loss

According to Live Science, a sensorineural hearing loss often develops when there is damage to the tiny blood vessels in the ear. When a person suffers from IDA, he or she is at an increased risk of vessel damage. Aside from the potential damage to blood vessels, IDA increases the risk of myelin sheath problems in nerves, including those which run from the ear to the brain.

On the other hand, conductive hearing loss is often caused by mechanical problems in the ear like blockage by earwax or fluid, perforated eardrums and problems in the bones of the middle ear.

Iron Deficiency Syndrome Treatment

The treatment for IDA is often focused on consuming foods and supplements rich in iron. IDA can be treated successfully with iron supplement tablets, eating green leafy vegetables and other foods rich in iron. However, the researchers suggest that further studies should be conducted to see if preventing IDA could also prevent hearing loss.

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