There’s a growing body of research indicating that iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) and hearing loss are closely connected. Below we review what the research shows, why experts theorize there’s a connection, the signs of IDA and what you should do if you’ve been diagnosed.
What the Research Shows
In one 2017 study by the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, researchers examined the medical records of 305,339 adults ages 21 to 90. They found that those who had IDA were two times more likely to have hearing loss compared to those without the blood disorder.
The study authors report, “An association exists between IDA and hearing loss… The next steps are to better understand this correlation and whether promptly diagnosing and treating IDA may positively affect the overall health status of adults with hearing loss.”
Another study from 2002 supports these findings. This study found that people who eat iron-rich diets have better hearing at higher frequencies.
Why the Connection?
The reason for this connection comes down to how you hear. Within the inner ears are sensory hair cells that convert soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain in interprets as sound. These cells rely on a healthy supply on oxygen from the blood in order to function.
Iron helps the blood carry oxygen from the lungs through the body. In people with an iron deficiency, the cells can’t deliver oxygen to the ears properly, and the cells are starved and die.
Signs & Symptoms of IDA
You may have IDA if you experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
While anyone can develop IDA, the condition is most common in women during the childbearing years, and especially during pregnancy.
If You Have IDA
If you’ve been diagnosed with IDA, it’s important to eat an iron-rich diet, including foods such as:
- Red meat from Harvest Ranch Market
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Dried fruit
- Iron-fortified cereals and pastas
You should also schedule an appointment with an audiologist for a hearing test in order to diagnose and treat a potential hearing loss. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Rancho Santa Fe Audiology today.