Iron Deficiency Anemia Linked to Hearing Loss Interview with:
Kathleen Schieffer, BS, PhD Candidate
Biomedical Sciences and Clinical and Translational Science
Clinical and Translational Science Fellow
Hershey, PA 17033 What is the background for this study?

Response: Hearing loss is common in the United States, with its prevalence increasing with each decade of life. Iron deficiency anemia is a common, reversible condition, associated with negative health outcomes. The inner ear is highly sensitive to ischemic damage and previous animal studies have shown that iron deficiency anemia alters the inner ear physiology. Understanding the association between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss may open new possibilities for treatment. What are the main findings?

Response: Iron deficiency anemia is associated with hearing loss, specifically sensorineural hearing loss, in United States adults. This association was not demonstrated with conductive hearing loss, suggesting that the mechanism may be involved with the cochlea and auditory nervous system rather than the mechanical component of the outer and middle ear found with conductive hearing loss. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This retrospective study found a correlation between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss. However, we do not provide evidence to support that iron deficiency anemia causes hearing loss. Identifying the mechanistic underpinnings by which iron deficiency anemia is associated with hearing loss may help provide clinicians with new avenues to identify individuals at-risk for hearing loss and possibilities for early treatment. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Research is needed to uncover how screening and treating iron deficiency anemia influences hearing health in adults with hearing loss. It is well-established that treating iron deficiency anemia will improve overall health status but it is currently unknown how it influences hearing health. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Kathleen M. Schieffer, Cynthia H. Chuang, James Connor, James A. Pawelczyk, Deepa L. Sekhar. Association of Iron Deficiency Anemia With Hearing Loss in US Adults. JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, 2016; DOI: 10.1001/jamaoto.2016.3631

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on December 31, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD