Hearing loss affects 48 million people in the United States alone. It can have a debilitating effect on social wellbeing, communication and overall quality of life. We know that osteoporosis affects the bones, but it is not usually associated with hearing loss. However, researchers have found that there may be a connection.
A recent study published in The Hearing Journal followed 144,000 women over several decades. Researchers found that the risk of moderate or extreme hearing loss was 30% higher among women with either osteoporosis or low bone density. One theory is that systemic bone demineralization that occurs in people with osteoporosis may affect the bones in the skull and ear, impairing their function and impacting their role in hearing. While this connection is not certain, the study found that use of bisphosphonates, a common medical treatment for osteoporosis, reduced the effects of hearing loss in mice.
This is just the start of research focusing on hearing loss and its connection with bone density. What we do know is that a healthy diet and regular exercise are crucial for reducing the risk of both osteoporosis and hearing loss.