Scientists have found that iron deficiency anaemia may increase the risk of hearing loss, a finding that may open new possibilities for early identification and appropriate treatment of the condition.
For the study, researchers from Pennsylvania State University in the US determined iron deficiency anaemia by low haemoglobin and ferritin levels for age and sex in 305,339 adults ages 21 to 90 years; associations between hearing loss and iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) were then evaluated. Of the patients in the study population, 43% were men; average age was 50 years.
Combined hearing loss is defined as any combination of conductive hearing loss (which is due to problems with the bones of the middle ear), sensorineural hearing loss (when there is damage to the cochlea or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain), deafness and unspecified hearing loss.
There was 0.7% prevalence of IDA and a 1.6% prevalence of combined hearing loss. Both sensorineural hearing loss (present in 1.1% of individuals with IDA) and combined hearing loss (present in 3.4%) were significantly associated with IDA.
Analysis confirmed increased odds of sensorineural hearing loss and combined hearing loss among adults with IDA. Since IDA is a common and easily correctable condition, further understanding of the association between IDA and all types of hearing loss may help to open new possibilities for early identification and appropriate treatment.
“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,” researchers said. The study is published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.