Sleep Apnea and Hearing Loss: What’s the Connection?

Man sleeping

We all know that a good night’s sleep is important for our overall health and well-being. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from sleep apnea, you know that it can be a real pain—literally. This chronic condition causes loud snoring and can disrupt your sleep, leaving you feeling exhausted during the day.

But did you know that sleep apnea, a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep, can also lead to hearing loss? Studies have shown that people with sleep apnea are more likely to experience hearing loss than those who don’t have the condition, and there are a few possible explanations for this connection. 

But first, it helps to understand sleep apnea, so you can have better clarity on how it can impact your hearing in more ways than one.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. This can happen multiple times throughout the night and can lead to a number of health problems, including loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, and headaches. With that in mind, there are two main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): This is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax and collapse during sleep, blocking the airway.
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA): This type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing. As a result, breathing can stop for short periods of time during sleep.

Sleep apnea can occur in people of any age, but it is more common in adults, especially those who are overweight or have certain medical conditions like congestive heart failure, hypothyroid disease, kidney failure, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s. If you think you might have sleep apnea, see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.

How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Hearing and Leads to Hearing Loss

Sleep apnea and hearing loss might be connected because both can be caused by inflammation and abnormal functioning in the blood vessels. This is according to a study done by Shah. The study showed that out of the 14,000 U.S. participants in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, about 10 percent had sleep apnea, and around 30 percent had some form of hearing impairment.

There are many possible explanations for why this connection exists. One possibility is that the loud snoring that is often associated with sleep apnea can damage the blood vessels in the ear over time. This damage can then lead to hearing loss. Another possibility is that sleep apnea can cause inflammation in the body, leading to damage in the blood vessels and, eventually, to hearing loss.

Whatever the reason for the connection, it is clear that sleep apnea and hearing loss are both serious conditions that can have a significant impact on a person’s life. If you or someone you know has either condition, it is important to get treatment as soon as possible to help prevent further damage.

The Bottom Line: Don’t Shrug Off the Impact of Sleep Apnea on Your Health 

While sleep apnea may not seem like a big deal, it can actually have a severe impact on your health, including your hearing. One study found that people with sleep apnea were more likely to develop hearing loss than those without the condition. The study found that the risk of hearing loss was even higher in people with severe sleep apnea.

If you have sleep apnea, it’s important to get treated. There are a variety of effective treatments available, so there’s no reason to suffer any longer. And, if you’re concerned about the impact of sleep apnea on your hearing, be sure to talk to your doctor about it, as there are steps you can take to protect your hearing and keep it healthy.

If you think you might have a hearing problem, or if you just want to get your hearing checked out, you can always visit us for a free hearing test in Langley. We’ll be able to take a look at your hearing and see if there is anything that we can do to help.

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