03/10/2006 - News

Rheumatoid arthritis does not increase hearing loss risk

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD

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Rheumatoid arthritis does not increase hearing loss risk

Reported by Susan Aldridge, PhD, medical journalist

A comparison shows that people with rheumatoid arthritis do not have more problems with their hearing.
Previous research has suggested a link between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and hearing loss. However, new work from a team at the Mayo Clinic, suggests this is not the case. They looked at a group of 29 patients aged 40 to 69 who had RA and compared them with a matched control group without the disease.

Hearing tests showed that 17 of the RA patients and 14 of the controls had a problem with at least one frequency. There was no significant difference, however, in hearing loss between the two groups. But those with RA, especially if it was severe, were more likely to perceive they had a hearing problem. The researchers think there may be a tendency to generalize disability - that is, because RA caused disability in some patients they believed their hearing was also impaired.

Further research is needed because the scientists thought that there was a trend towards worse hearing that could have been caused by medication to RA. It is also possible that the immune system may impair the inner ear in RA. Larger studies are needed to establish whether there is a link here or not.

Source
American Auditory Society meeting 6th March 2006

Created on: 03/10/2006
Reviewed on: 03/10/2006

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