Psoriatic Arthritis: Not Just Joints and Skin
Last updated: May 2019
For a few years now, I’ve noticed that I have a hard time hearing my husband. (Cue all the jokes you want, but it actually was not selective hearing!) Asking him and others to repeat what they just said was getting more and more annoying. It was getting to the point where I would smile and nod and hope they didn’t see that I had no clue what they were saying.
Honestly, I really shouldn’t have let the problem go on as long as I did. The issue was that I didn’t know where to turn to get my hearing tested, and each year at my annual physical, I neglected to ask my primary care physician. Thankfully, my son was working in an audiology office and recommended – actually, pushed – me to get a hearing test. That coupled with the other stories of psoriatic arthritis patients on this site having hearing and balance problems prompted me to take the next step and get tested.
Getting me hearing tested
The unknown can be scary, even if you know it is for the best. I really didn’t want to learn that my psoriatic arthritis was causing hearing loss. I didn’t want to think that at age 42 I was going to need hearing aids, but pretending things were ok when they weren’t had gone on long enough.
My hearing exam lasted about an hour. My audiologist took my health history, and I noted that when I was young, I often got ear aches. I also noted that I had psoriasis from time to time in my ears. After that, I was put in a sound booth with ear phones and asked to repeat the words my audiologist said at different volumes. I then had to say “yes” each time I heard a beep. She tracked all of this information and gave me a chart showing the results.
My hearing results
Well, it turns out, my hearing was actually pretty good. I was definitely well within the average range. So, what is the problem, then?
She told me that people, in general, have become somewhat lazy in annunciating words. Many people also try to hold a conversation while not making eye contact, often talking while their backs are turned or while they are walking out of a room. This can make it difficult for anyone to hold a conversation and understand what the other person is saying.
I need to see people and their faces to clearly make out words and phrases. Otherwise, my brain doesn’t process the information quite right. Now, instead of asking people to repeat what they just said, now I try to position myself in a better location to hear and see what’s going on. In return, the rest of my family is working harder to break their conversation bad habits.
Hearing loss with PsA
If you suspect you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis and find yourself having trouble hearing, get a test. It’s painless and often covered under medical insurance. If you have sudden hearing loss, then don’t wait. My audiologist said this type of hearing loss may be reversible if caught within 72 hours. She said it is best to err on the side of caution and get your hearing checked annually, so you’re your doctor can track your progress and see changes that might be minor to you daily, but show up as big changes from year to year.
With psoriatic arthritis, it’s never just about your joints and skin. Don’t neglect the rest of your body and be aware and skeptical when things don’t feel quite right. I could have easily been in the 26.7 percent of PsA patients with inner ear damage. Thankfully, I can work on improving my hearing without medications or hearing aids – for now. I know that with psoriatic arthritis, this could change, so I need to make sure I stay on top of it to reduce my risk.
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