Hearing loss in rheumatoid arthritis

Christine S. Halligan, Christopher D. Bauch, Robert H. Brey, Sara J. Achenbach, William R. Bamlet, Thomas J. McDonald, Eric L. Matteson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to evaluate whether patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are more likely to have subclinical hearing loss compared with persons without RA. METHODS: This is a case-control cross-sectional study of 29 patients with RA with disease duration greater than 5 years. Five males and five females were recruited into each decade category (age 40-49, 50-59, and 60-69). These cases were matched in a 1:1 ratio by sex and age to 30 control subjects. A comprehensive set of audiometric and disease severity assessments were performed. RESULTS: Seventeen (59%) of 29 patients with RA had abnormal hearing for at least one frequency (four in one ear, 13 in two ears) by audiometry as did 14 (47%) of 30 control subjects (five in one ear, nine in two ears). The percentage of patients with hearing loss (% RA vs. % control subjects) was: 45% versus 40% sensorineural, 10% versus 7% conductive, and 3% versus 0% mixed hearing loss. In RA versus control subjects, acoustic reflex threshold was abnormal in 17% versus 7%; speech reception threshold was abnormal in 10% versus 3%. Tympanometry and otoacoustic emission findings were similar in both groups. Word recognition did not differ between patients with RA and control subjects. In patients with RA/control subjects, hearing handicap, dizziness, and health assessment questionnaires were abnormal in 28%/7%, 14%/3%, and 72%/7%, respectively. CONCLUSION: There was no difference found in objective audiometric measurements in patients with RA compared with non-RA control subjects. Subjectively patients with RA were more likely to perceive themselves as having hearing disturbances, which may be related to overall disease related functional impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2044-2049
Number of pages6
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Hearing loss
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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