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Doctors: Rheumatism can cause severe hearing damage

Doctors: Rheumatism can cause severe hearing damage


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Poor hearing in rheumatism indicates incorrect treatment

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019 is World Listening Day. On the occasion of this, the German Society for Rheumatology would like to inform about a still little known connection. As the experts report, rheumatism not only attacks the joints, but also causes damage to the inner ear, which can lead to hearing loss or even sudden hearing loss.

According to the German Society for Rheumatology (DGRh), around 1.5 million people in Germany are affected by inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Since classic rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, often does not develop until the age of 50 to 70 years, the hearing-damaging effect was not noticed for a long time. Because the development of hearing loss was attributed to age.

Rheumatism patients are more likely to suffer from hearing loss

"However, many epidemiological studies indicate that people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) suffer from hearing disorders more often than others," emphasizes DGRh President Professor Dr. Hendrik Schulze-Koop in a press release on World Hearing Day. The exact relationships have so far been little researched.

Possible relationships

According to the DGRh experts, the cause of the hearing damage could be related to the joints between the ossicles, which amplify the sound in the middle ear. These could be attacked in the course of a rheumatism. Another theory is that the receiver is affected in the inner ear.

"But one can assume that the inflammation in RA and in other inflammatory diseases damage the nervous system," said the professor. This damage also affects hearing. Schulze-Koop relies on studies that have established a connection between nerve damage in the systemic disease lupus erythematosus (SLE) and a reduced ability to smell.

SLE can also cause hearing loss

Ear damage is also possible with SLE. "Pathologists have detected antibodies and immune complexes in the inner ear that cause circulatory disorders or directly damage the sensory cells," explains the rheumatologist. Around 30,000 people in Germany suffer from SLE. It mostly affects young women. In severe cases there is a sudden hearing loss in one ear.

Proper treatment can prevent this

"Fortunately, timely treatment can often prevent this from happening," emphasizes the expert. The professor advises everyone affected to go into the hands of a rheumatologist. Regular intake of the right medication can slow down the excessive reactions of the immune system.

Hearing damage in rheumatic granulomatosis with polyangiitis

The professor reports that hearing disorders are very common in the rarely occurring inflammatory rheumatic granulomatosis with polyangiitis. With this disease, small inflammatory nodules accumulate throughout the body, which damage the tissue. The connection between the middle ear and throat is also affected, which favors middle ear infections. In Germany, only a few hundred people suffer from this form of rheumatism.

If the hearing deteriorates, the treatment should be changed

Basic advice from Professor Dr. Hendrik Schulze-Koop for all people with rheumatism reads: "A deterioration in hearing performance can indicate that the treatment of the disease is not optimal and the dose of the medication has to be checked." The earlier affected people go to the specialist with this concern, the more likely it is Prevent long-term hearing damage, says the rheumatologist. (vb)

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