- In a large patient population an investigative team found in 2017 a relationship between a lack of iron and hearing loss. In a total of 305,339 patients 4,807 patients had hearing loss; 2,274 patients had iron deficiency anemia. Among patients with sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) the probability of prior iron deficiency anemia was 82%. Among patients with mixed hearing loss the probability of prior iron deficiency was much higher, namely 141%. In conclusion, the authors found that iron deficiency anemia had an association with both SSNHL and mixed hearing loss. They noted that the cochlea, which is responsible for the process of hearing, is supplied by only one artery with no alternative collateral blood supply. When there is a low hemoglobin level from a lack of iron, this can lead to a lack of oxygen in this area.
- Another previous publication also reported a lack of iron and hearing loss. It is available in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery in 2014. It reported about a study from Taiwan. Among 16,016 participants there were 533 (=3.3%) patients who had previously suffered from iron deficiency anemia. Among these there were 172 patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL). Those who had developed SSNHL had a higher probability (34%) of having had previous iron deficiency anemia. The relationship between deafness (SSNHL) and previous iron deficiency anemia was a subject of study among patients 44 years or younger. It is especially relevant in this younger population that there was a 91% probability of prior iron deficiency anemia. As a result the authors suggested that patients at 60 years or younger should consider careful screening for hearing-related problems.
- Another publication from 2011 described a population of sickle cell anemia patients. Of 46 patients between 16 to 45 years 36.95% developed sensorineural hearing loss. These patients have genetically abnormal hemoglobin, called hemoglobin S. It causes a lack of oxygen in sensitive tissues including the cochlea. Sickle cell anemia patients have a high percentage of hearing loss. This confirms that a lack of normal hemoglobin can also be a risk for developing hearing loss.
Most of all, there is a clear relationship between iron deficiency anemia and deafness. In sickle cell anemia patients the lack of normal hemoglobin leading to hearing loss is even more obvious, so that almost 37% of the study group had developed it. It is important to check patients 60 years or younger carefully for hearing-related problems. In patients with sickle cell anemia hearing check-ups should begin much earlier, as early as when children are still in school.