Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is a blood condition. It’s actually quite common, affecting an estimated five million people across the nation. There are many health problems linked to iron deficiency anemia; it may surprise you to learn that hearing loss is on the list.
What Is Iron Deficiency Anemia?
Anemia describes a deficiency of healthy red blood cells in the bloodstream. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include the following:
- Extreme fatigue
- Chest pain
- Cold feet and hands
- Pale skin
- Poor appetite
There are several possible causes of anemia. Iron deficiency is the most common, since when the body does not have enough iron, it can’t produce a sufficient amount of hemoglobulin, which enables the cells to carry oxygen.
Causes of an iron deficiency include lack of iron in your diet and inability to absorb iron. Purchasing red meat at Siesel’s Meats and taking an iron supplement are two ways to treat an iron deficiency.
The Link Between Iron Deficiency Anemia & Hearing Loss
A study published in 2017 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery examined the relationship between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss.
For the study, data was gathered from 305,339 American adults ages 21 to 90. Researchers retroactively diagnosed iron deficiency anemia after reviewing the patients’ ferritin and hemoglobin levels. Hearing loss was categorized as either sensorineural, conductive or combined.
The researchers found that iron deficiency anemia was positively associated with both sensorineural and combined hearing loss.
Why Is There a Connection?
Unfortunately, experts aren’t entirely sure why the two conditions are linked.
There are two hypotheses:
- One is that the inner ears rely on a healthy supply of oxygen from the blood cells, and iron deficiency anemia reduces this.
- Another is that a decrease in iron can impact the production of myelin – a waxy substance that coats the nerves and conducts signals between nerve fibers.
For more information about the link between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call San Diego ENT today.