Higher Probability of Hearing Loss in Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Shows

Higher Probability of Hearing Loss in Fibromyalgia Patients, Study Shows

A group of Norwegian researchers has learned that patients with fibromyalgia or widespread pain have an increased probability for hearing loss. This new finding demonstrates that fibromyalgia, and also other musculoskeletal pain disorders, may be associated with an overall dysregulation of the central nervous system.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain disorder. Besides the characteristic pain symptoms, patients with fibromyalgia frequently present other non-specific signs, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, memory and concentration problems, depressive symptoms, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Due to the broad spectrum and high prevalence of symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, many scientists have started to recognize that fibromyalgia and related conditions may derive from the same mechanism. So far, the prevailing theory is that all fibromyalgia-related symptoms result from an alteration in the central neural processing of perceptive stimuli, rather than an organ-specific alteration, but this concept still lacks experimental support.

More recently, the scientific field has taken interest in how patients with fibromyalgia experience hearing. Some studies have presented contradictory results, making it unclear if fibromyalgia patients are more likely than not to report hearing loss.

The study, “Are persons with fibromyalgia or other musculoskeletal pain more likely to report hearing loss? A HUNT study,” was published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. It was based on the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study part 2 (HUNT2) and Nord-Trøndelag Hearing Loss study (NTHLS), and explored if fibromyalgia or other musculoskeletal pain disorder patients are more likely to develop hearing loss compared to control participants without pain-related problems.

About 44,500 patients with fibromyalgia or other musculoskeletal pain disorder were included in the study, and underwent testing to determine the occurrence of hearing loss.

Researchers found that patients with fibromyalgia and patients with other musculoskeletal pain disorders had a 4.5 increased probability of having impaired hearing when compared with a control group. Moreover, patients with local and widespread musculoskeletal pain, but not diagnosed with fibromyalgia, also were more likely to develop hearing loss.

Still, patients with widespread pain presented a stronger association with hearing loss, having approximately 3.3 increased chance to develop impaired hearing, while patients with local musculoskeletal pain had only 1.8 increased probability.

“The finding supports the increasing recognition that medically unexplained pain conditions may pertain to a larger spectrum of symptoms, and that a common denominator for the different symptoms might be a more general dysregulation in perception of sensory stimuli,” the authors concluded.

19 comments

  1. Denise Bault says:

    What? I’m sorry…I couldn’t hear you. 🙂
    Very interesting article. I remember many years ago when I first started having symptoms of what is now known as fibromyalgia. They thought I had Meniere’s disease! (I didn’t.) But I do have hearing loss and I’m only 58. My ears always feel “full.” Anyone else?

    • Jamie says:

      When I was in my 20’s I started to have pain, and it just kept getting worse over the years. In my 30’s went to a pain clinic and was checked for fibromyalgia but I was short by two pressure points. So of course no one said what was really wrong with me, I just kept going and tried to ignore the wide spread pain the best I could. And then I turn 50 and I can’t hear out of my right ear, I go get hearing checks done and over a years time I’ve lost my hearing in my right ear. Oh and I also have a very loud buzzing in that ear. Then at 53 I was diagnosed with central pain syndrome with fibromyalgia being a symptom of that as the doctor tells me. I could handle the hearing loss but the buzzing is what drives me nuts.

      • Miranda says:

        I have this really loud ringing my right ear. Its driving me crazy. Sometimes i think sticking an ice pick in ear would be a good solution

      • Suzzieq says:

        When is was about 35 I got sick. I had on going sinus and ear infections. At 35 I became extremely dizzy. I went to the doc 3 times in 2 weeks. I was throwing up couldn’t stand up straight. Awful. My best friend drove me I was unable to drive. I had other strange symptoms unexplained skin rashes and chronic hives. No one put anything together. I was getting sinus and ear infections w fluid in both ears about every 5-6 weeks. Finally 6 yrs later I was ref to an ENT doc. He sent me to the balance center at UVA medical center. We found that most likely 6 yrs earlier I had an infection in my inner ear that destroyed my balance on my left side. Once gone it doesn’t come back. My brain has worked hard to try and compensate. Even now tho 21 yrs later I’m still sick w sinus issues and fluid in my ears makes me dizzy. That goodness not as often. I’ve felt like for several yrs my hearing has been getting worse. I was finally diagnosed w fibro a yr ago this past January. I am so sick right now w fluid in both ears and sinus infection. Yet again. My hearing has been getting worse for about the past 6 month. I can barley hear for a week or 10 days. I’m sure it’s worse due to my fluid. I am going may 26 for a hearing test. I feel sure I’m losing my hearing. Wish me luck.

    • Charlene says:

      Me I am 36 and have been going deaf as well. Just found out in Oct that its mild to moderate in one ear and mild in the other. The Meniers disease has been brought up.

      • Denise Bault says:

        My last hearing study showed loss, yet I’m hypersensitive to certain noises! How can that be? What a perplexing illness!

        • Kylie Dunn says:

          I am the same, I had numerous hearing tests for a job I applied for and failed them all. It’s not bad hearing loss, just certain low tones I can’t hear and I find it hard to hear a conversation if they don’t speak loudly and clear. But I’m the same as you Denise, I’m extremely hypersensitive to some higher pitch sounds, like some music or tv being too loud, the worst is children screaming.

    • P MH says:

      I was diagnosed in May 2017. I have had that full feeling for 3 years in left ear and finally had it looked at. I have more than normal hearing loss in the ear for 53 yr. old. I thought the pain I had through my 40s was normal pain. In 3/2016 I streatched by PT and my entire back was injured so that is how I was eventually also diagnosed with Fibro..

  2. Mary says:

    Fibro hit me in ’97. Had to get hearing aids in ’05, and recently was told I’d qualify for a cochlear implant. I don’t want to get one (all Medicare will pay for).

  3. Terri says:

    I was finally diagnosed in ’99. I have noticed more and more I have problems hearing. I was thinking it was just me but I am more reassured that it is not after reading this article. I notice that my right ear feels like it is “clogged” and it it harder to hear out of. The left is better but is slowly going also. I have had tinnitus for years. The different sounds and buzzing drive me crazy. Over the years, I have been able to try to ignore it as much as possible. The one thing I can’t ignore is that I can hear every heart beat. Guess the only good thing about that is I know it’s still ticking…LOL.

    • Denise Bault says:

      I hear my heartbeat occasionally. It would drive me nuts to hear it all the time! Kinda like Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” if I’ve got my story right. I feel for you all!

  4. Marilynne Rowland says:

    Interesting. I have very sensitive hearing. I hear sounds and from where they come before most people around me. Don’t whisper if you don’t want me to hear you. I have had F/CFS/ME for 20+ years.

    • Terri says:

      Funny you should mention that! I have always had over sensitive hearing. My husband checked it off to “mother hearing”. He always laughed that I could hear our friends who lived 7 houses away from us roll over in bed at night and wake up and say “what’s that”. I always hear the hum/whine of the incandescent lights, etc. I thought it was just me.

    • Em says:

      This sounds so much like me!! I have always had sensitive hearing. True for this fibro one. Going to the store w/ all the music, computer registers making high pitched noises, impatient people etc. is difficult. I can become very stressed and the pain, tingling all through my body is so intense I oft need to leave.

      Most discouraged when I learn about hearing loss though. Very depressing indeed. I was diagnosed w/ fibro in 2000. Went from a physically able bodied person so quickly-ended up being kicked to the curb as a head case and was trapped in the darkness of the mental health system for 8 years. Made my great escape from there and I am so thankful. Had me so loaded up w/ psychotropics including anti phychotics I was psychotic!!all All of this was to enable shrinks to get perks from drug companies. Shame, shame on these kind of doctors!!!

      Ventured back to that dark place momentarily.

      The dark cloud now hanging over me w/ this kind of info. At times I am not at all certain I out to have seen this info.

      Living w/ this possibility-Geesh!

      • Denise Bault says:

        Em, at least we now KNOW what it is! Beats being driven crazy by docs that are ill-informed or not informed at all. I have not had your path but I have certainly been a guinea pig for Big Pharma. Instead of just treating all the “symptoms,” why the heck aren’t they doing more research to find out the cause/cure????? We need to come up with some sort of thing like they did for ALS with the “bucket challenge.” I know, we can play a game of, “No, I’m not crazy, you are!” But seriously, anyone have any ideas on raising money to help fund research? With 2-5 million people in the U.S. alone that are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, surely we can come up with something! I get a kick every time spell check underlines the word fibromyalgia! You’d think it would be recognized by now!

  5. The chronic condition of Fibromyalgia is already affecting more than 5 million Americans and when it is proven that hearing loss would occur in them, the race is on for the researchers to find medicine because five million is not a small part of population. The problem is not so damaging to effect joints but hearing is definitely something that takes the person in social chaos.
    http://www.northcountyaudiology.com/

    • Denise Bault says:

      As an audiologist, I appreciate your comment. However, hearing loss is far down on my list of symptoms I would like to eliminate. PAIN AND FATIGUE are the first two that takes us all into “social chaos.” You’re right. With over 5 million people diagnosed – who knows how many have it and haven’t been diagnosed – the race SHOULD be on to find a cure. Why isn’t it?????????????????

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