A Currently concluded research study based on the large health insurance database revealed that people who’d suffered sudden deafness were more probable to have a previous diagnosis of sleep apnea than a comparison group without hearing loss.

Taiwanese health insurance data analysis revealed that the absolute difference is actually small: 1.7 percent of those with hearing loss had sleep apnea in comparison to 1.2 percent without hearing trouble.

The health records of nearly one million Taiwanese evaluated by Dr. Jau-Jiuan Sheu, of Taipei Medical University Hospital. His team of researchers found that almost 3,200 had been diagnosed with sudden deafness between 2000 and 2008. Comparison was made with other five people of same age and sex without hearing loss. Out of those 19,000 people in total, 240 had been diagnosed with sleep apnea before the episode of sudden deafness occurred.

Researchers observed that men with sudden deafness bear 48 percent more probability to have a previous sleep apnea diagnosis than men without hearing loss. This observation is based on analysis of health and lifestyle factors that may be related to both sleep problems and hearing loss — such as obesity and heart disease

Researchers also concluded that the association for women was less clear compared to the men.

Findings of this research study were published in the journal “Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery”.

Sleep apnea is characterized by closing off of the airways during sleep, leading to repeated drops in oxygen levels in the blood and frequent short wake-ups, along with snoring. It’s often treated with a mask and breathing device, called continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, but one of the most effective treatments is weight loss.

This research does not establish conclusively that sleep apnea causes sudden hearing loss. The researchers couldn’t account for people’s smoking and drinking, for example, which may affect the risk of both conditions. However, inflammation and changes in blood vessels linked to sleep apnea could contribute to the risk of deafness.

There are about 4,000 new cases of sudden deafness each year in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health, and there are many possible causes, including infections and head injuries.

Deafness only occurs in one ear, and most people regain their hearing over a period of weeks, sometimes aided by steroid treatment. But occasionally the hearing loss becomes more serious.

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Filed under: CPAPHeart DiseaseObesitySleepSleep ApneaSleep Apnea DiagnosisSleep Apnea EffectsSleep Apnea ResearchSleep Apnea StudySleep Disordered BreathingSleep DisordersSleep ProblemsSnoring

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