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Albany Med Physician Finds Link Between Sleep Apnea and Hearing Loss

ALBANY, N.Y., July 22, 2014 — Sleep apnea may be linked to hearing loss, according to a study by Albany Medical College pulmonologist Amit Chopra, M.D.

Sleep apnea, a disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep, has been tied to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and erectile dysfunction. This is the first large-scale national study to suggest it might also be linked to hearing impairment.

In a study of 13,967 participants from multiple cities, 10 percent were found to have at least moderate sleep apnea. Of these patients, 31 percent had an increased risk of high frequency hearing impairment, 90 percent had an increased risk of low frequency hearing impairment and 38 percent had an increased risk of both high and low frequency hearing impairment after adjusting for other possible causes of hearing loss.

Dr. Chopra, who was lead author of the study, said further research is needed to determine whether the apnea-associated hearing loss was caused by a lack of blood supply to the ear canal or noise trauma from snoring. 

“Our findings suggest that a person who has sleep apnea should be screened for hearing impairment,” Dr. Chopra said.

Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the N.I.H., the study was presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in May.

Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 734-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with nearly 400 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: www.amc.edu or www.facebook.com/albanymedicalcenter.

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