Iron plays an important part in the health of our bodies. People with low levels of iron in their blood suffer from a condition known as iron-deficiency anemia, which can cause several wide-range effects across our body. A new study reveals that the condition may be linked with a gradual hearing loss as well.
The main findings of the study, which was published on December 29th in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, consists in the fact that adults who suffered from iron deficiency had the double the chance of developing a specific type of hearing loss known as combined hearing loss, than the adults who had normal levels of iron in their blood.
For their study, researchers performed extensive data analysis from medical records of more than 300,000 adults registered in the city of Hershey, Pennsylvania. All the participants were adults with ages between 21 to 90 years old, with the average age being 50-years old.
Researchers examined the medical records to find patients who suffered from iron deficiency anemia as well as any type of hearing loss. After identifying all patients with these conditions, the researchers divided them into three categories based on the type of their hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and combined hearing loss, which is a combination of the previous two.
Researchers discovered that having low levels of iron leads to 2.4 increase in the risk of developing combined hearing loss, with 1.8 chance of suffering from sensorineural hearing loss. However, the scientists did not discover any link between iron levels and the conductive type of hearing loss.
According to Kathleen Schieffer, a researcher from the Pennsylvania State University College Of Medicine, earlier research reveals that low iron levels can damage the tiny blood vessels in the ear which causes sensorineural hearing loss. More precisely, low levels of iron in the blood has been linked to several disorders which can damage the small blood vessels.
The researchers were quick to emphasize that the study only reveals an association and not a cause-and-effect relation between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss. In their study, the researchers did not account for other risk factors for the loss of hearing such as high blood pressure, diabetes or smoking. As such, further research is required.
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