Link between bone/joint health & hearing health

You may find it surprising that hearing health is directly related to overall health and wellness. As a matter of fact, recent research has linked hearing health to bone and joint health.

During the week of October 12-20, Bone & Joint Action week is held annually. The overall goal of this global movement is to increase awareness of the prevention, treatment and management of bone and joint disorders. This includes back pain, osteoporosis, arthritis, and trauma. Musculoskeletal diseases are common, affecting 11 million Canadians annually over the age of 12 [1].

Studies have shown that bone health and hearing health are, in fact, related. Those living with osteoporosis are more prone to suffer from sensorineural hearing loss, which today is the most common type of hearing loss. Also, these patients are more likely to report experiencing tinnitus. Individuals with osteoporosis have metabolic changes as well as degeneration of the three bones in the middle ear which is thought to contribute to their hearing loss. [2]

Conductive hearing loss has also been linked to low body mass density. Researchers found that bone mass density (BMD) has a significant inverse relationship with conductive hearing loss. Simply put, the lower the BMD, the more common and serious the hearing loss. [3]

Researchers found in a 2006 study, a likely connection between osteoporosis and otosclerosis. Osteoporosis is the declination of bony tissue that can bring on the loss of bone density which can enhance the risk of bone fractures. Otosclerosis is a bone disease that affects the middle ear and can subsequently result in conductive hearing loss. The conductive hearing loss is caused by the hardening of the stapes, bones in the middle ear about the size of a grain of rice. An irregular overgrowth of bony tissue can cause the bones in the middle ear to be fused together. [4]

A research study published in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology (August 2004) explored the clinical relationship between osteoporosis and otosclerosis citing a common gene COL1A1 associated with both conditions. Out of 100 research participants, 15 were found to have diagnoses of both conditions. The study showed a significant clinical association between the conditions. [5]

In light of the relationship between bone and joint health and hearing health, you will be able to keep both healthy by adhering to the following recommendations from The National Osteoporosis Foundation [6]:

  • Eat foods that are good for bone health, such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D and eat a well balanced diet.
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol to 2-3 drinks a day.
  • Engage in regular exercise.

It is never too late and you are never too young or old to improve your health. Starting healthy habits now can ensure healthy bones, joints, and even hearing for a lifetime.


By Starkey Canada