Osteoporosis and Hearing Loss

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

Hearing loss is part of a vast web of physical conditions that are connected with one another to varying degrees. Research scientists and experts are engaged in the ongoing process of understanding how these connections work. In some cases, experimental evidence and body imaging technology make it possible to have a clear understanding of how other conditions related to hearing loss. When the statistics show that a person with hearing loss is likely to be at a higher risk of another condition, experts might have a good idea of the bodily mechanism that connects them. 

However, other instances are less clear. The statistics might show a relationship, but even experts might exist in the world of theory and speculation as to what bodily functions connect these two realities. One new condition has come to the public view when it comes to hearing loss: osteoporosis. Research shows much higher rates of hearing loss among those with osteoporosis than those who do not have osteoporosis. Furthermore, these people are at a higher risk of sudden sensorineural hearing loss, as well. These statistical findings lead experts to seek a better understanding of how these conditions might be linked in the body, as well. 

Bone Density and Osteoporosis

What exactly is osteoporosis? This condition is defined at a threshold of low bone density in which bones become porous, fragile, and subject to fractures and breaks. When a person has osteoporosis, this condition leads to a chain reaction in the body. Not only do our bones give us the structure we need to remain agile and mobile, but they provide the architecture of the body that keeps organs in place. One of the many effects of low bone density is to promote breaks and injuries within fragile organ systems of the body, including the ears. 

Hearing Loss and Bone Health

When osteoporosis sets in, the three main bones of the middle ear are at risk of fractures. These bones transmit sounds from the outer ear into the inner ear. When they are weakened by osteoporosis, hearing loss can result. Specifically, an imbalance in bone formation and bone resorption derived from osteoporosis can damage these bones, leading to hearing loss. Other theories of the connection between hearing loss and bone health have to do with the bones that protect the auditory nervous system. These nerves that connect the ear with the brain require protection from damage, much like the function of the spinal column. When these bones are weakened, the nerves connecting the ears and the brain can become broken or damaged as a result. 

Promoting Bone and Hearing Health

What can you do to promote your bone health and prolonged hearing ability? Diet and exercise seem to have a lot to do with bone health. Specifically, getting enough protein, calcium, and vitamin D throughout the lifespan are all linked to lower rates of osteoporosis, so take a look at your diet to see if you are getting what you need. You might want to take supplements or vitamin pills if you don’t think that nutrition is supplying what you require to prevent osteoporosis. 

Exercise is also a powerful preventative force, not only building muscle strength to undergird bone structure but also keeping weight in a healthy place not to put undue pressure on the skeleton. Smoking cessation is another way to prevent osteoporosis before it’s too late. In addition to these healthy habits to promote bone health, what can you do to prevent hearing loss? Many of these healthy lifestyle habits double as preventative measures for sensorineural hearing loss, as well. You can take additional steps to prevent noise-induced hearing loss by wearing hearing protection in loud places, particularly when you know that the combination of volume and duration can put you at risk. 

Limiting your exposure to noise and loud sound is the other main way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. You might be causing hearing damage through leisure and recreational activities, such as attending loud concerts or sporting events or using headphones and earbuds at too loud a volume for an extended period of time. With these lifestyle practices in place, you can rest assured that you are doing everything you can to prevent both osteoporosis and hearing loss, as well as the connections between them.