Could sleep apnea be harming your hearing?

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Sleep apnea is a common disorder affecting about 1 in 15 people. Research shows that those with it have a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and other cardiovascular problems. It’s now speculated that hearing loss should be added to that list. One study suggested that hearing impairment may be caused by a decrease in the vascular supply to the cochlea.

This could very well happen during sleep apnea when the person momentarily stops breathing and blood supply is reduced. Or, perhaps hearing loss is simply a result of trauma from snoring. Whatever the exact cause, a recent study did indeed find that sleep apnea was associated with an increase in hearing impairment at both high and low frequencies, 31 percent increase and 90 percent increase, respectively. This is one study, thus the findings are very preliminary and should not be taken for fact until more research is done. But, knowing this possible correlation means that by treating sleep apnea one may be able to reduce the risk of hearing loss.

 

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