In 2014, researchers presented a study at a study American Thoracic Society International Conference on how sleep apnea can affect hearing. The fairly conclusive results discovered that sleep apnea negatively impacts a person’s hearing. In addition, the research showed that sleep apnea can cause both high and low frequency hearing loss.
Sleep apnea is when a person has 15 or more episodes of shallow breathing or pauses breathing completely while asleep (over the course of a 1 hour period). Due to this suppression of oxygen, scientist have noted various issues with blood flow. Since blood flow is vital for your body to function optimally, this lack of oxygen also impacts your ears and hearing. A lack of blood flow can cause damage to the ear. Such that hearing loss may occur.
Researchers studied a population of more than 13,000 participants from the Hispanic Community Health Study. The participants consisted of 52% women and had an average age of 41 years old. The team chose this population to mimic an average segment of the world’s population. Amit Chopra, MD conducted the study and made sure all of the participants had prior sleep apnea testing completed in their homes. They used a standard hearing test to gauge their starting level of ability. At the onset, 10% of the total participants demonstrated sleep apnea and 29% of all the participants started with some noticeable hearing loss.
Throughout the study, Dr. Chopra discovered that the participants with sleep apnea had increased hearing loss. His results showed high frequency hearing loss in 31% of the affected patients. More striking, he found a startling 90% loss at low frequencies for those with apnea!
As a result, researchers are now looking deeper into this connection and looking to see how medication for the disorder can possibly help avoid hearing loss concerns.
If you worry that sleep issues may have had an impact on your hearing, we can help. Contact us for a free hearing assessment to ensure you hear well – and to address any deficits.