While iron deficiency, commonly known as anemia, primarily affects blood cell count, recent studies show the condition may also be linked to hearing loss. But before you go upping your beef intake, let’s dive further into the findings and identify if and how it can be avoided.
A look at the Numbers
In a study that followed over 305k adults ranging from 21 to 90 years old, researchers revealed those with anaemia were twice as likely to have hearing loss. In Australia, it has been recorded that about 4.5% of adults suffer from anaemia, and the condition is much more common in women, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Most Affected Types of Hearing Loss
The link between iron levels and hearing ability was strongest between conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, or a combination of the two conditions. Conductive hearing loss exists when sounds aren’t efficiently conducted from the outer ear to the eardrum or middle ear. Sensorineural hearing loss, which is generally considered permanent, is present when the inner ear or nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain are damaged.
A Word from the Experts
While the results are interesting, study author Kathleen Schieffer of Pennsylvania State University clarified that the findings only show a possible connection between anaemia and hearing loss, but do not prove one has causal effects on the other. As such, “There is currently no evidence to confirm that treating iron deficiency anaemia will improve hearing health,” she said.
What Does this Mean for You?
While there is no proven link yet, researchers believe lack of oxygen in the blood does impact the inner ear. It’s best to monitor your iron levels and consult a doctor if you’re concerned that your diet is low in the essential nutrient.