A recent study has discovered an unlikely connection between gout and hearing loss. How can these two seemingly unrelated conditions be connected? As with many other incidents of health and wellness, gout and hearing loss function in different ways within the body, yet they are connected as part of the web of systems that unite the body as a single organism. Although we can’t see the pathway connecting the joints to the ears, an underlying process determines the connection. Let’s take a closer look at this connection in the study, as well as some theories about the underlying mechanism connecting them in the body. A holistic approach to health will consider the interrelated nature of each bodily function, including how they work together to create a general picture of health and wellness.
Gout and Hearing Loss
Gout, which is a form of arthritis that results in pain, swelling, and redness in the joints, results from a buildup of uric acid that crystallizes and deposits in the joints. Many experience gout in the hands, where the joints of fingers struggle to move fluidly and can be painful with overexertion. A recent large-scale study correlated data on gout and hearing loss to see if they have a relationship. Researchers analyzed data on 1.71 million adults in the United States with a five percent random sample from Medicare records for adults over the age of 65 between the years of 2006 and 2012. During this time of the study, there were 89,409 new cases of hearing loss. By correlating these records with records of those who had gout, the researchers were able to determine that those with gout had a 44 percent higher risk of developing hearing loss during the study period. This relationship did not show that gout caused hearing loss, per se. Instead, it showed that there was another underlying condition that caused both hearing loss and gout within this population. These two conditions are also quite common among elderly populations. With so many people having both gout and hearing loss at the same time, it was difficult to identify a single underlying condition that caused both.
Interpreting the Relationship
Without a direct finding on the relationship between these conditions, researchers were left to theorize about how they might be connected. The two conditions of gout and hearing loss have at least two known causes in common: inflammation and oxidative stress. These experts speculate that inflammation and oxidative stress might be causing the buildup of uric acid in the joints and damage to the tiny hairlike organelles of the inner ear, called stereocilia at the same time. With these possibilities in mind, the researchers were not only interested in what can be done to understand how these conditions are caused but also what might be done to prevent them. Of the many possible solutions, experts recommend an anti-inflammatory diet that is rich in antioxidants. Two such diets have been successful with preventing other health problems. The first is the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension. This diet encourages eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and limiting consumption of red meat, processed foods, and saturated fats. A similar diet, the Mediterranean Diet, has much in common. In addition to these principles, this diet recommends eating foods that are rich in healthy fats, such as olive oil, and it even permits drinking a glass of red wine per day. These diets have been successful at limiting the likelihood of heart disease, but they are also effective at reducing inflammation throughout the body. If inflammation leads to both gout and hearing loss, then these diets might be effective preventive measures, as well. If you are concerned about hearing loss, don’t hesitate to contact our offices for a hearing test. This first step will help us diagnose your needs and see if treatment will be helpful for you. Hearing aid technology has advanced greatly, and we can introduce you to the options that are available to help you communicate and enjoy the sounding world once again. Through individualized consultation we can help to assist your hearing and to suggest preventative measures to avoid further hearing loss.