Iron plays an essential role in the body’s daily functioning. Not enough can lead to health complications such as anemia. A research study conducted by scientists at Penn State found that low iron levels can also lead to hearing loss, making it important to ensure people in Union Square and the rest of the Bay Area get enough of this essential mineral on a daily basis.
What is IDA?
Iron Deficiency Anemia, or IDA, occurs when there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells in the body. Without iron, there aren’t enough red blood cells to supply oxygen; this can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, cold hands and feet and other symptoms. Eventually, IDA can cause heart problems, delay growth and development in children and increase the risk of premature birth.
Another complication of IDA is hearing loss. A team at Pennsylvania State University wanted to look at the correlation between iron and hearing, given that approximately 90 percent of patients with sensorineural hearing loss – an inner ear disorder and the most common type of hearing impairment in the U.S. – were found to have IDA to some degree. The researchers retroactively looked at 300,000 patients, ranging from youths to the elderly, who had IDA to determine if they also suffered from hearing loss. Roughly 15 percent of patients in the group showed evidence of hearing loss; some had experienced this impairment for several years. The team concluded that there is a correlation between iron deficiency and hearing loss, probably due to a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream; this can cause damage to the vestibulocochlear nerve responsible for hearing and balance. IDA is one of several factors, such as diabetes and tobacco smoke, that increase the risk of early-onset hearing loss.
Fortunately, with IDA, the condition is preventable – as long as it is detected early and treatment is started.
Adding Iron to Your Diet
Iron is found in many of the foods we eat. To ensure an adequate supply of this vital mineral, make sure to consume the following foods:
- Red meat
- Leafy green vegetables
- Dried fruits
- Bread and pasta
Beer lovers can rejoice over the fact that a pint of Guinness contains 3 percent of the recommended daily allowance of iron, giving you a perfect excuse to wash down that steak with a cold bottle of beer.
To learn more about the association between IDA and hearing loss, or to schedule a hearing exam for yourself or a loved one – always a good idea, regardless of your overall health – make an appointment with your Union Square audiologist today.