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Sleep Apnea Contributes to Hearing Problems

Did you know sleep apnea can contribute to hearing problems? According to the latest study, researchers suggested that people who are struggling with sleep apnea might want to have their hearing tested.

It is widely known in medical circles that sleep apnea can affect a person’s quality of sleep and overall well-being. But a new study revealed that this sleeping disorder can also contribute to hearing loss. This lends credence to the notion that sleep apnea is not likely to occur in isolation but rather as a manifestation of an underlying health problem, the researchers added.

“Sleep apnea is more of a systemic and chronic disease than just something that happens when you're sleeping,” Dr. Neomi Shah said. “It probably affects multiple different organs, so I would probably urge we start thinking about sleep apnea as more like a chronic disease with vascular and inflammatory issues.” Dr. Shah is the associate director of the pulmonary sleep lab at New York City’s Montefiore Medical Center.

Link Between Sleep Apnea and Hearing Problems

The study revealed that sleep apnea contributes to a 31-percent increase in high-frequency hearing loss and 90-percent increase in low-frequency hearing problems. In addition, the sleep disorder is associated with a 38-percent rise in hearing loss for both high and low frequencies.

Our ears are prone to inflammation in the blood vessels and the resulting abnormal functioning is how Dr. Shah explained the connection between sleep apnea and hearing problems.

Other experts, however, advised to take caution when interpreting the results of this study.

“Correlation is not causation. It doesn't mean if you have sleep apnea you're at risk for hearing impairment,” Dr. Rebecca Spencer said. “You wouldn't know if one comes before the other: sleep apnea appears before hearing loss, or hearing loss appears before sleep apnea and maybe they don't come together at all. They may not be related except by a third factor.” Dr. Spencer is a neuroscientist and an associate professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

However, Dr. Spencer pointed out that this might be a good starting point for conducting a study to determine whether or not treating the sleep disorder can improve hearing problems.

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I´m 61 years old and lost my hearing gradually over many years. Because my hearing loss developed so slowly, I never realized it was happening. But my friends and family sure did. Because of them, I decided to get my hearing tested. Dr. Andrews keeps working with you until you are satisfied. That´s what I like. I haven´t heard this well in years. ~ R. McGreggor

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