PsA and Hearing Loss

A 2014 clinical study that evaluated people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) on hearing, balance and inner ear found that compared to healthy subjects, people with PsA were more likely to have hearing and balance issues. Results showed that 31.7% of people with PsA had hearing loss. In comparison, only 6.7% of the control group showed hearing loss. PsA patients were also more likely to have impaired balance. Twenty-three percent of PsA patients demonstrated balance issues while none of the control group did. Inner ear damage, which can be the cause of hearing and balance impairments, was found in up to 26.7% of PsA patients and was not found in the control group.1,2

Previous research has shown a causal link between other arthritis and autoimmune diseases and inner ear damage, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, systemic sclerosis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Experts believe the inner ear damage is due to the presence of chronic inflammation in these conditions as well as PsA.1,2

How hearing loss occurs

Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors, such as heredity, ear infections, meningitis, trauma, certain medications, long-term exposure to loud noise, and aging. There are two types of hearing loss. The first is caused by damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. This type, which is the form that people with PsA have an increased risk of developing, is usually permanent. The other kind of hearing loss happens when sound cannot reach the inner ear due to earwax build-up, fluid, or a punctured eardrum. Treatment or surgery can reverse the second kind of hearing loss.3

Treatment for hearing loss is important, as untreated hearing problems can worsen. Treatment options include hearing aids, cochlear implants, special training, certain medicines, and surgery.3

Balance issues

Damage to the inner ear, such as what occurs in PsA, can also cause balance problems. Balance problems can cause a sense of unsteadiness, or the individual may feel like they are moving, spinning, or floating when they are not. Problems with balance are one cause of falls and fall-related injuries. Balance problems are sometimes resolved by treating underlying disorders. Other options for improving balance are exercises, a change in diet, and some medications.3

Ways to reduce risk

Treatment of PsA is the best way to reduce the risk of hearing loss, as well as slowing or preventing the progressive joint damage that can cause deformity and loss of function. Early and active therapy offers the most benefit and chance of minimizing complications.1,4

Written by: Emily Downward | Last reviewed: October 2016.
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