Sleep Apnea and Hearing Loss: Is There a Relationship?
Do you suffer from sleep apnea? Know someone who does? See patients who do? If you said "yes" to any of these questions, you might be interested in a soon-to-be-published article by Matsumura and colleagues titled Evaluation of Peripheral Auditory Pathways and Brainstem in Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
These investigators evaluated differences between individuals without sleep apnea (controls [n=10]) and those with varying levels of obstructive sleep apnea severity (mild [n=11], moderate [n=8], and severe [n=9]) on the following auditory test measures: (1) pure-tone audiometry, (2) tympanometry, (3) acoustic reflex threshold, and (4) auditory brainstem response. It should be noted that an exclusion criterion was “treatment for obstructive sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or intraoral devices.” No statistically significant differences were detected between groups in any of the assessed parameters.
While no statistically significant differences were observed between groups in the aforementioned parameters, these investigators did find "an association between the presence of obstructive sleep apnea and a change in absolute latency of wave V" as compared to the normative values provided by the test equipment (Smart EP). When looking at severity, there was an "association between the presence of moderate obstructive sleep apnea and the presence of a change in absolute latency of wave V."
The two groups with the greatest severity of sleep apnea did have the largest percentage of subjects (50 percent for moderate and 33 percent for severe) with a change in absolute latency of wave V. Considering these results and acknowledging the current study's limitations, the authors encourage future studies to examine further this relationship.
Matsumura E, Mata CG, Magliaro FC, Pedreῆo RM, Lorenzo-Filho G, Sanchez SG, Carvallo R. (in press). Evaluation of peripheral auditory pathways and brainstem in obstructive sleep apnea. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol.