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J Otolaryngol. 2001 Oct;30(5):289-94.

Hearing loss in rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, Altnagelvin Area Hospital, Londonderry, United Kingdom.



Hearing loss, both sensorineural and conductive, has been reported in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of this study was to try and ascertain the type of hearing loss and to determine the cause for any conductive element noted in these cases.


A prospective case-control study in the otolaryngology department of a university teaching hospital in the United Kingdom.


This study compared 35 patients with RA with 35 age- and sex-matched controls. All patients had pure-tone audiometry, speech discrimination, tympanometry, acoustic reflex, and acoustic reflex decay carried out. Statistical analysis of the two groups was carried out using the F test for differences in variation and the t-test for independent samples.


Sensorineural hearing loss that was statistically significant (p < .05) at 500 Hz, 1 kHz, and 2 kHz in both ears was found in 60% of the RA group and in 34.29% of the control group. A conductive hearing loss that was statistically significant (p < .05) at 250 Hz, 500 Hz, 1 kHz, and 2 kHz in the right and left ears was found in 17.14% of the RA patients and in 5.71% of the control group. Speech discrimination did not show a statistically significant difference between the two groups. Tympanometry showed that the conductive element was probably owing to laxity of the middle ear transducer mechanism. Acoustic reflex and reflex decay did not show statistically significant differences between the two groups.


Sensorineural hearing loss of the cochlear variety is a common finding in patients with RA, whereas conductive loss, although seen, is much less common. Increased laxity of the middle ear transducer mechanism is the likely cause of the conductive element.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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