The link between Stroke and Sudden Hearing Loss
In 2008, the American Heart Association published an extensive study that suggested that there was the possibility of a relationship between sudden Sensorineural hearing loss (due to nerve damage in the inner ear), and stroke, over a 5 year follow up period. The study reported that there was an increase between the incidence of a stroke and the sudden loss of hearing (developed in a 72 hour period). Further to this, it was also reported that although the age related hearing loss did not increase the likelihood of someone having a stroke, those who had between moderate and severe hearing loss were more likely to report that they had had a stroke in the past.
Hearing loss, tinnitus and sensitivity to sounds are all associated with (bilateral) strokes of the brainstem. Stoke can also be associated with the sudden onset of hearing loss, (being able to hear one week but struggling to hear the television the next week), which is not related to the slow, gradual decline of hearing that is often associated with the ageing process.
The screening of the auditory process and stoke is important. Studies have suggested that 42% of stroke patients had hearing impairments to conversational tones. As well as being associated to hearing loss, stroke can also be an early indicator of heart disease so it is essential to have a full health check following a stroke to ensure there are no underlying conditions and any hearing loss detected.