Hi, my name is Katlyn. As a mum of four kids, I take their health very seriously. However, I also take my own parenting philosophies seriously. Because of that, I have always attempted to find doctors and health care providers who resonate with my style. That includes everything from their thoughts on how often to prescribe medication to how they speak to my children. If you want tips on finding the perfect healthcare provider, please explore these posts. They contain everything I have learned over the years, and I hope my experiences can really help other mums and families! Take Care, Katlyn.
As an inflammatory autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis can affect several parts of your body, not just your joints. In addition to having an increased risk of developing heart disease, dental problems and osteoporosis, those with rheumatoid arthritis are also at risk of developing sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is linked to autoimmune diseases and can occur when the cochlea or auditory nerve is damaged. Here's an overview of two ways rheumatoid arthritis can impact on your hearing and the treatment options available:
How Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Impact Your Hearing
Some medications used to manage the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and salicylates, are considered ototoxic. This means they can damage your inner ear, but there may not be a safer alternative for you to try that would suitably manage the pain and stiffness associated with your arthritis. Ototoxic medication can cause sudden or gradual hearing loss, so discuss the risks versus the benefits of your medication with your rheumatologist.
Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease
When you're experiencing a flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis, your body's immune system attacks itself, and this creates inflammation. Your immune system can attack any part of your body during a flare-up, including your inner ear. The immunosuppressant medication used to dampen down your immune system can prevent inflammation from reaching the point where permanent damage can be done to your hearing, but if your current dose is no longer effective, permanent damage can occur.
Symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss include dizziness, ringing in your ears, difficulty hearing conversations clearly in noisy environments, and needing to continuously ask people to speak up or speak clearly. Although you can't recover lost hearing, you can prevent further hearing loss with the use of medication such as steroids to reduce inflammation. Your audiologist will also work with your rheumatologist to ensure you're taking the optimum dose of immunosuppressant medication.
In addition to medication, hearing aids or a cochlear implant can be used to improve your hearing. Hearing aids are recommended if only certain areas of the tiny cells in your cochlea are damaged. For example, if the cells at the bottom of your cochlea, which are responsible for receiving and transporting high-frequency sounds, are damaged, you would benefit from hearing aids that are programmed to alter high-frequency sounds as they enter your ear. By altering these sounds, other parts of your cochlea can then process them.
A cochlear implant may be recommended if the damage to your inner ear is severe. This device consists of a microphone you wear externally and a receiver that's surgically positioned on your temporal bone. The microphone transmits sound to the receiver, which then sends the sound to your brain to be translated into what you hear, so a cochlear implant completely bypasses your ear.
If you're experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, or if you're concerned about the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on your hearing, schedule a hearing test as soon as possible at a local clinic like Advanced Hearing Care.