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Ear Hear. 2017 Jan/Feb;38(1):21-27.

Prospective Study of Gastroesophageal Reflux, Use of Proton Pump Inhibitors and H2-Receptor Antagonists, and Risk of Hearing Loss.

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1Department of Otolaryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts, USA: 2Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; 3Department of Epidemiology, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; 4Department of Biostatistics, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; 5Renal Division, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; 6Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; 7Section of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; and 8Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center for Otolaryngology and Communications Sciences, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.



Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is common and often treated with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H2-receptor antagonists (H2-RAs). GERD has been associated with exposure of the middle ear to gastric contents, which could cause hearing loss. Treatment of GERD with PPIs and H2-RAs may decrease exposure of the middle ear to gastric acid and decrease the risk of hearing loss. We prospectively investigated the relation between GERD, use of PPIs and H2-RAs, and the risk of hearing loss in 54,883 women in Nurses' Health Study II.


Eligible participants, aged 41 to 58 years in 2005, provided information on medication use and GERD symptoms in 2005, answered the question on hearing loss in 2009 or in 2013, and did not report hearing loss starting before the date of onset of GERD symptoms or medication use. The primary outcome was self-reported hearing loss. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to adjust for potential confounders.


During 361,872 person-years of follow-up, 9842 new cases of hearing loss were reported. Compared with no GERD symptoms, higher frequency of GERD symptoms was associated with higher risk of hearing loss (multivariable adjusted relative risks: <1 time/month 1.04 [0.97, 1.11], several times/week 1.17 [1.09, 1.25], daily 1.33 [1.19, 1.49]; p value for trend <0.001). After accounting for GERD symptoms, neither PPI nor H2-RA use was associated with the risk of hearing loss.


GERD symptoms are associated with higher risk of hearing loss in women, but use of PPIs and H2-RAs are not independently associated with the risk.

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