Hearing Loss In Chronic Kidney Disease And Dialysis Patients

Many patients do not realize that hearing loss has been noted to be higher in those with Chronic Kidney Disease, especially individuals conducting Dialysis Treatments, according to the European Acoustics Association. While Hemodialysis patients are more likely to be affected than the Peritoneal Dialysis patients, in both cases patients should monitor their hearing levels, and try to protect their hearing the best they can with the following tips.

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According to a report published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the link between Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, and hearing loss can be explained by structural and functional similarities between tissues in the inner ear and in the kidney. Hence, toxins that accumulate in patients' bodies can damage nerves, including those in the inner ear. "Another reason for this connection is that Chronic Kidney Disease and hearing loss share common risk factors, including diabetes and high blood pressure," suggested study author Professor David Harris (Associate Dean of Sydney Medical School-Westmead at the University of Sydney).

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Hearing loss is not an uncommon disorder. In fact, for approximately thirty-seven (37) million Americans, the world is a very quiet place. Still, hearing loss can make conversations fade into whispers and turn music into a faint hum. Often, Chronic Kidney Disease patients who experience hearing loss withdraw from their social lives because they're embarrassed to ask family and friends to repeat themselves over and over again. They might also be afraid that they will misunderstand a conversation and answer with wrong or embarrassing comments. Pay attention to the following signs to determine if your hearing is going either suddenly or over time:

- Missing details of conversations
- Communication becoming fuzzy. 
- Sounds starting to become muffled and gradually fading.
- Pain in one or both ears
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Ringing in the ears
- Pressure or fullness in one or both ears

In order to conserve hearing as much as possible, Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis should consider the following tips: 

1. Avoid Too Much Noise: How loud is too loud? If you have to shout over the noise around you, it's loud enough to damage your hearing. Sounds from motorcycles, concert speakers, power tools like saws and drills, earphones, and more are all loud enough to make a difference.

2. Be a Quiet Enforcer: Consider buying appliances and devices that have low noise ratings. If the sound is too loud in the movie theater or any other place you go often, ask the manager to turn it down.

3. Limit Loud Sounds in Your Life: Sometimes you can't avoid the blare of an ambulance siren or the jackhammer on your street corner. But it's best to limit the amount of time you're around them. Noise-induced hearing loss is a result of the loudness of sounds and how long you hear them.

4. Wear Hearing Protection: If you know you're going to be around loud sounds for more than a few minutes, think about wearing protection, such as: 

  • Earplugs: Usually made of foam or rubber, they go in your ear canal and can reduce noise by 15 to 30 decibels. You can buy them off-the-shelf or have them custom-made to fit you.
  • Earmuffs: These fit completely over your ears and reduce sounds by about 15 to 30 decibels. They have to fit tightly over both ears to block sound. You can also wear earplugs and earmuffs together for even greater protection.

5. Remove Earwax Properly: A buildup of wax in your ears can muffle sound. But don't use a cotton swab to clean them out -- they can push wax even deeper in. Instead, use an at-home irrigation kit to soften the wax and gently wash it out. If it gets compacted in your ear, your Nephrologist may need to remove it.

6. Check Medications for Hearing Risks: About 200 meds can damage hearing, including some antibiotics and cancer-fighting drugs. Even higher doses of some pain-killers can harm your ears. If you take a prescription medication, check with your Nephrologist to make sure it won’t make an impact, if otherwise avoidable.

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Patients should also talk with their Nephrologists about having their hearing checked regularly. Have you noticed any reduction in your hearing since beginning Dialysis or even being diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease? Share your answers with the over 57,000 Friends who have liked KidneyBuzz.com on Facebook (click here). While you are there, like the KidneyBuzz.com Facebook Fan Page and visit KidneyBuzz.com regularly (140,000 monthly viewers) for the latest tailored breaking news and information which teaches those with Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Kidney Transplant, Diabetes, and High Blood Pressure how to better manage and improve their lives. You may become a regular visitor like, Charles Griffin who said, "Praise God for KidneyBuzz."

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