Albany Medical Center researchers performed a study that reveals that there is a direct relationship between sleep apnea and hearing loss. The study included almost 14,000 people who have suffered from sleep apnea. They were part of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos.
The lead researcher, Amit Chopra, stated that the research found that sleep apnea was linked with both high and low frequency hearing loss.
When the study started, the subjects all had sleep apnea assessment tests via the apnea-hypopnea index or AHI. This determines the severity of sleep apnea in the individual and measures the amount of airflow the individual gets for each hour they are asleep.
The researchers set a baseline for hearing impairment by both high frequency and low frequency loss. A high frequency loss was determined to be a threshold of more than 25 decibels at 2000, 3000, 4000, 6000 and 8000 Hz, while low frequency hearing loss was determined to be a loss of more than 25 decibels at 500 and 1000 Hz.
The researchers concluded that nine percent of the individuals in the study had sleep apnea and that 19 percent of them had high frequency range hearing loss. Additionally, 1.5 percent of the study participants had a low frequency hearing impairment and 8.4 percent had both low and high frequency range loss.
Overall, the researchers discovered that those who had sleep apnea had a greater risk of experiencing a high frequency hearing loss at 31 percent but an even greater risk of experiencing a low frequency range hearing loss at 90 percent. When certain factors were taken into account, it was found that individuals with sleep apnea were on average 38 percent more at risk for developing a hearing impairment involving both low and high frequency ranges.