Chronic Kidney Disease Might Affect Hearing

Older patients more likely than their peers to develop hearing loss, researchers find

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News)-- A new study finds that older people with moderate chronic kidney disease are more likely than others their age to develop hearing loss.

Australian researchers reached their conclusions after studying more than 2,900 people aged 50 and older, of whom 513 had moderate kidney disease. Of those, 54 percent reported having hearing loss, while only 28 percent of the others did. Tests showed that 30 percent of patients with chronic kidney disease had severe hearing loss, while just 10 percent of the others did.

The research suggests that there's a strong connection between chronic kidney disease and hearing loss, study author Dr. David Harris, associate dean of Sydney Medical School-Westmead at the University of Sydney, said in a news release from the National Kidney Foundation.

"The link can be explained by structural and functional similarities between tissues in the inner ear and in the kidney," Harris said.

"Additionally, toxins that accumulate in kidney failure can damage nerves, including those in the inner ear. Another reason for this connection is that kidney disease and hearing loss share common risk factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure and advanced age."

Dr. Kerry Willis, a senior vice president at the National Kidney Foundation, said in the same news release that the findings could lead to changes in how physicians take care of people with chronic kidney disease. Earlier hearing tests and fitting of hearing aids could help "improve quality of life and lead to better management of underlying conditions which could, in turn, potentially preserve hearing function."

The study appears in the Oct. 1 issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.

More information

For more on kidney diseases, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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