Do you suffer from sleep apnea? This exhausting condition leaves you tired after a night’s rest. It also can affect your spouse or partner by your regular gasping and snorting episodes which disturb their rest.
High Rate of Hearing Loss
A recent study shows that those with sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from hearing loss. The risk of low-frequency hearing loss is as high as 90% with mid- and high-frequency loss carrying a risk of nearly 40%.
The exact mechanism by which this happens is still under investigation. However, researchers are working on the theory that snoring and inflammation at the back of throat causes damage to the blood supply to the cochlea in the ear. Another postulated idea is that noise trauma from snoring may impact hearing in the same way that working in a noisy environment does.
The study looked at nearly 14,000 members of the Hispanic community, and found around one-in-ten suffered from sleep apnea. Of these, men were more likely to be affected than women.
Sleep Apnea – the Mechanics
Sleep apnea is a condition where the brain is temporary starved of oxygen when the body is deeply relaxed, such as during sleep. This is typically the result of the back of the throat closing in on itself, and forming a temporary blockage. The brain recognizes the lack of oxygen and sends messages telling the sufferer to wake up and take a breath – hence the gasping and snorting episodes that occur regularly through the night.
Obviously the problem of sleep apnea needs addressing in its own right, and for this you should speak to your personal physician. But until now you might not have given much thought to your hearing health and, specifically, the heightened risk of hearing loss.
Address your Hearing
Hearing loss can impact all areas of your life from putting a strain on relationships, to an increased risk of depression and feeling disadvantaged in social situations. Furthermore, it has been shown that hearing loss impacts your earning potential.
The first step is to book a hearing test and check if you have a problem. If you do, then a hearing device can help protect your social life and earnings. The hearing aid is not a treatment for sleep apnea (the results of improved hearing on the condition are not known), but it will prevent the complications of loss of self-confidence because of impaired listening skills.
Hearing loss is also linked to an increase risk of falls, and it can even affect your mental acuity in IQ tests and increases the risk of dementia. All of these are strong reasons to book a hearing test and also work with your physician to address the underlying causes of sleep apnea.
Chopra, A., Jung, M., Appel, D. W., Dhar, S., Dinces, E., Lee, D. J., et al. (2014, May).Sleep apnea and hearing impairment in the Hispanic community health study/Study of Latinos. Poster presentation at the American Thoracic Society International Conference, San Diego, CA.