A Link Between Gout and Hearing Loss

A Link Between Gout and Hearing Loss

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D.

Hearing loss is a common health problem nearly 48 million people have to deal with. According to estimates, one in five people has some hearing loss in one or both ears. Hearing loss is a chronic and permanent health condition that causes several symptoms that make it harder for a person to take in and understand sound. This affects every part of life, including communication, relationships, social activities, work responsibilities, etc. 

Identifying risk factors is an excellent way to protect hearing health and keep hearing from worsening. Research shows that gout is a risk factor. In particular, people with gout are more likely to lose their hearing.

What’s Gout?

Gout is arthritis that causes the joints to hurt and inflamed. This usually happens in the foot, usually in the big toe, which gets hot, swollen, and painful. Gout can also appear in the fingers, ankles, knees, and other joints. Pain from gout usually comes on quickly and can last for a short time or be chronic and last for weeks.

The body makes uric acid from purines, which are found naturally. Most of the time, uric acid is broken down in the blood, goes through the kidneys, and leaves the body through urine. When there is too much uric acid in the body, it can lead to gout. 

But the body can make too much uric acid, or the kidneys can let out too little. Because of this, the acid builds up, and urate crystals form in and around the joints. This is what wraps around the joint tissue that causes gout symptoms like swelling, pain, tenderness, etc.

Link Between Gout & Hearing Loss

New research shows that gout and hearing loss are linked. Researchers have found that people with gout are more likely to lose their hearing. In a 2018 study, researchers looked at Medicare claims for new hearing loss to see if there was a link between the two. 

For the study, researchers got 5% of all Medicare records from 2006 to 2012 and looked at them. They were especially interested in claims of new hearing loss from people 65 and older. Out of the 1.71 million people in this study, 89,409 suffered hearing loss. People with gout were 44% more likely to lose their hearing than people without gout.

Researchers think the formation of urate crystals, which cause inflammation and oxidative stress, affects the auditory system. More research is needed to determine precisely how gout can cause hearing loss. This can hurt the joints in the middle ear, which help absorb and move sound waves more profoundly into the inner ear. Being proactive about your health is an excellent way to avoid these related conditions.

Stopping Gout

Keeping your uric acid levels low is an excellent way to avoid gout. Some foods and drinks have purines, which the body turns into uric acid when broken down. 

Some ways to get rid of gout are:

  • Consuming red meat and shellfish less often. 
  • Avoiding drinks with fructose as a sweetener and drinking less alcohol. 
  • Drinking a lot of water helps flush uric acid out of the body. 
  • Doing more physical activity, which makes the body make less uric acid.

A healthy diet and exercise can help prevent gout, but taking care of your hearing health is also essential.

Putting Hearing Health First

If you have gout or have a higher chance of getting it, it’s essential to put your hearing health first. Setting up an appointment for a full hearing test is a great way to do this. This is done through a painless and non-invasive process that measures your hearing in both ears to determine if you have hearing loss, how bad it is, and what kind it is. 

Hearing tests help find out what your hearing needs are and what the best ways to treat those needs are. 

You can protect your hearing health by, among other things, 

  • Having your hearing checked regularly,
  • Wearing protective gear like earmuffs, headphones, and earbuds can reduce the amount and effect of loud noise you take in.
  • Using electronic devices at lower volumes. Take breaks from listening to give your ears a break from constantly taking in and processing sound.