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Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are no more likely to experience hearing loss than other people. The finding is contrary to previous study results that linked RA to an elevated risk of hearing problems. The results were presented at the American Auditory Society annual meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The study followed 29 patients, aged 40 to 69 years, who had RA for >5 years. The researchers compared these patients with 30 participants of the same gender and age categories who did not have RA. All participants were given comprehensive hearing tests and questionnaires to measure hearing and dizziness episodes and to assess their overall health. Of the RA patients, 17 had abnormal hearing for at least one sound frequency, as did 14 of the participants without RA. The researchers found, however, that there was no objective difference detected in hearing evaluations of RA patients, compared with those without RA. Among the RA patients who did have hearing loss, most times the loss was only partial and due to nerve problems in the inner ear.