There are many potential causes of hearing loss, the most common of which are advancing age and noise exposure. Another less-known, less-common cause is a spinal cord injury. Below we review information about spinal cord injuries, what the research shows on how they’re linked to hearing loss and what you can do if you’ve experienced a spinal cord injury.
About Spinal Cord Injuries
Your spine is made up of many bones called vertebrae, and your spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that runs through it and carries messages from your brain to the rest of your body.
Your spinal cord may become injured if you experience a:
- Motor vehicle accident
- Sports injury
- Diving accident
- Trampoline accident
- Violent injury
- Infection on the spinal cord
- Birth injury
Some symptoms of a spinal cord injury include:
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of voluntary movement in the chest, arms and/or legs
- Loss of feeling in the chest, arms and/or legs
- Loss of bowel and bladder function
- Breathing problems
How Spinal Cord Injuries & Hearing Loss Are Linked
There was a 2021 study entitled, “Increased risk of sensorineural hearing loss in patients with spinal cord injury: a nationwide longitudinal follow-up study,” published in the journal Spinal Cord. The purpose of the study was to compare the risk of sensorineural hearing loss in patients with and without spinal cord injuries.
The researchers used Taiwan’s Longitudinal Health Insurance Database 2005 as a data pool. There were 2,006 participants between ages 20 and 69 in the spinal cord injury group, and 8,024 participants age- and sex-matched without a spinal cord injury.
During the follow-up period, 30 patients in the spinal cord injury group and 87 in the non-spinal cord injury group developed sensorineural hearing loss. The researchers conclude, “As such, the cumulative incidence of sensorineural hearing loss was significantly higher in the spinal cord injury group than the non-spinal cord injury group (2.16 vs. 1.21 per 1000 person-years, p = 0.008).”
What You Can Do
If you’re experiencing hearing loss following a spinal cord injury, schedule an appointment with an audiologist, who can administer a diagnostic hearing test and prescribe hearing aids to suit your needs. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call ENT Specialists Of Northern Virginia today.