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Hearing Loss

Researchers Find Link Between Sleep Apnea and Hearing Loss

Though you might feel like you're the one going deaf from the sound of snoring, sleep apnea can also be an indicator of a potential hearing loss.

Hearing someone snore while you’ re trying to sleep can be irritating. Intense snoring, however, can be a sign of sleep apnea– a chronic condition in which a person pauses while he or she sleeps. Such breathing pauses may occur over 30 times an hour and last from a few seconds to minutes.As a result, people with sleep apnea may also not be getting enough oxygen to their brain.

To further research sleep apnea’ s effects on people, Dr.Amit Chopra, a Pulmonologist at Albany Medical Center in New York, examined if there was a relationship between sleep apnea and hearing loss.

In May 2014, Chopra and his colleagues conducted a population-based study where 13, 967 participants were surveyed to determine a there is a relationship between sleep apnea and hearing loss.

The results

Participants with sleep apnea were associated with a 31 percent increase for high frequency hearing loss, a 90 percent increase for low frequency hearing loss, and a 38 percent increase for combined hearing loss.They also found that those of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent were more susceptible to hearing loss.Dr.Chopra stated:

“Patients with sleep apnea are at increased risk for a number of comorbidities, including heart disease and diabetes, and our findings indicate that sleep apnea is also associated with an increased risk of hearing [loss].”

In 2014, he hypothesized that sleep apnea may obstruct the vascular flow to the cochlea – a part of the inner ear where hair cells convert sound vibrations into nerve impulses that are then sent to the brain. This is also known as cochlear damage, which can lead to sensorineural hearing loss.

Although the study showed a link between sleep apnea and hearing loss, researchers can’t say that sleep apnea causes hearing loss. In a 2016 article, “Sleep Apnea and Hearing Loss,” Chopra states that more research needs to be done to determine the specific mechanisms for hearing loss.

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