Sleep Apnea Now Tied to Hearing Loss

It seems like every week there is a new study revealing some new information about sleep apnea. A study released in May 2014 found a correlation between both types of hearing loss and sleep apnea. The study was based on results from nearly 14,000 patients and found sleep apnea was independently associated with hearing impairment at both high and low frequencies. The study was conducted by the Albany Medical Center in New York. Every subject underwent an at-home sleep apnea study and an independent assessment of hearing loss. Although the exact link between the two has not been pinpointed, there is a definite correlation between the two conditions.

According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Amit Chopra from the Albany Medical Center, “We found that sleep apnea was independently associated with hearing impairment at both high and low frequencies after adjustment for other possible causes of hearing loss.” After analyzing the numbers of patients with both sleep apnea and hearing loss, 9.9% of the people studied had moderate or severe sleep apnea. Of the people with sleep apnea, 19% had high frequency hearing impairment, 1.5% had low frequency hearing impairment, and 8.4% had both types.

While the lead author mentioned the reason for the connection is unknown, it might be related to the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels. Something as simple as sleeping less for just 3 nights can harm blood vessel functioning. According to Dr. Seva Polotsky, a sleep apnea researcher from Johns Hopkins University, “It’s possible that sleep apnea, which is known to increase the buildup plaque in blood vessels, could affect vessels in areas of the brain that control hearing, or vessels that feed the nerves responsible for hearing.”

Even though there is much to be discovered concerning sleep apnea research, we do know this condition increases the risk for a number of comorbidities like diabetes and heart disease. Now that hearing loss has been added to the list, it is more apparent than ever to never ignore sleep apnea. If you believe you may be suffering from sleep apnea, contact the professionals at FusionSleep.