The term “comorbidity” refers to a medical condition that occurs alongside another. For example, some comorbidities of fibromyalgia include tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression and hearing loss. We review the connection between fibromyalgia and hearing loss, in particular, below.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep problems, memory issues and moodiness. In some cases, these symptoms begin after some sort of triggering event, like physical trauma, surgery, infection or psychological distress. In other cases, symptoms come on gradually with no triggering event.
Many believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations because it affects the way the brain and spinal cord process both painful and nonpainful signals. Unfortunately, there is no cure for fibromyalgia, though there are many medications and lifestyle changes that can help you manage your symptoms.
The Link Between Fibromyalgia & Hearing Loss
One 2020 study published in the journal PLOS One sought to examine whether patients with fibromyalgia are at an increased risk of developing hearing loss compared to those without.
Researchers examined data from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database and compiled information from two cohorts: one with new-onset fibromyalgia between 2000 and 2002, and one that was age- and sex-matched to this group but did not have fibromyalgia. The participants were followed from three months after their fibromyalgia diagnosis until death, withdrawal, hearing loss development or the date Dec. 31, 2013.
The researchers found that the overall risk of hearing loss in the group with fibromyalgia was 1.46-fold higher than the group without fibromyalgia, after adjusting for age, sex and comorbidities.
They explain, “Our findings support the notion that [fibromyalgia] influences [hearing loss] and is in line with the hypothesis that the [fibromyalgia] mechanism is related to a central nervous system abnormality in sensory processing.”
If You’ve Been Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
According to the researchers, health care professionals should provide screenings for hearing loss as well as prevention and counseling methods for patients who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
If you have been diagnosed with this condition, you should schedule a baseline hearing test right away to compare future tests to and get regular screenings. A licensed audiologist at Kampsen Hearing can conduct these tests and provide effective treatment if you start showing hearing loss symptoms, like trouble hearing your friends in environments with a lot of background noise like Datz.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call Kampsen Hearing today.