Hearing loss is the third most common disease in the US with millions of cases confirmed every year. Some previous studies have confirmed the link of osteoporosis with hearing loss which is a bone condition marked by low bone density. But this evidence was limited and there was no information about lowering this risk of memory loss by taking the bisphosphonates supplements for improving bone density.
A research team hailing from Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted a study, investigating the data collected from 144,000 women that came for a follow-up for 34 years. This study was part of a larger program called the Conservation of Hearing Study (CHEARS). Based on the results, it was clear that the risk of hearing loss was more than 40% higher in participants who had low bone density. Also, taking bisphosphonates supplements didn’t change anything for the risk of hearing loss in women. The complete findings are now published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.
In general, hearing loss in adult years has no treatment and no doctor can reverse it. Under CHEARS, the research teams are focused to find the key risk factors that are involved in worsening hearing loss. Although some recent evidence shed light on the potential help from bisphosphonates to prevent a hearing loss triggered by noise. But there is no information about bisphosphonate effects in adults, affecting hearing loss.
They used the data taken from Nurses’ Health Study (NHS l) and Nurses’ Health Study (NHS II) two longest-running research projects based on registered nurses that were established back in 1976, and 1989 respectively.
The research team noticed how the hearing loss was increased or worsened with time, as self-reported by these study participants. All such information was taken through questionnaires, after two years. These reports were confirmed using the CHEARS Audiometry Assessment Arm analyzing the audiometric thresholds of these participants. It is a standard to evaluate hearing sensitivity using slow or loud noises.
Both these cohort studies reported that the risk of hearing loss was much higher in women who had underlying osteoporosis or in general low bone density. Some of them were using bisphosphonates but it seems that it has no impact on changing this risk. There is still a lot to explore especially about the type, dosage, and duration of bisphosphonate usage to determine its effect.
Those who experienced a vertebral fracture in the past were more likely to experience hearing loss in later years. But this same fact wasn’t true in the case of hip fractures that are more common in osteoporosis patients.
This study carries its own limitations such as ethnicity, educational level, and socioeconomic roles. More studies are needed to clarify this association. In the future, they plan to study the role of calcium and vitamin D supplements on the risk of hearing loss as these two supplements are also helpful for osteoporosis patients.
A low bone density and any bone-related disorder such as osteoporosis is an important factor to calculate the age-related risk of hearing loss in women. There are good chances that a healthy diet and lifestyle maintained throughout life can protect the bones from future damage and improve the quality of health.