Psoriatic arthritis (PsA), a chronic autoimmune condition that is best-known for causing skin lesions and joint pain, might not seem like it has anything to do with your ability to hear properly. Yet research is finding that there appears to be an overlap between having PsA and hearing impairment.
In the past few years several small studies have identified this connection. One 2014 study, for instance, found that people with PsA were more apt to do poorly on hearing tests, but it only looked at 60 PsA patients (and an equal number of control patients). Now a new and much larger study has reached a similar conclusion.
The new study, published in January 2019 in the Journal of Rheumatology, used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and that included information on more than 10,000 adults with and without psoriatic arthritis.
The key finding: “PsA is independently associated with a significantly increased risk of [hearing impairment],” the authors wrote.
What do your ears have to do with your joints or skin? More research is needed, but PsA is an autoimmune condition, and autoimmune ailments often impact many different parts of the body. People with PsA are already known to have a higher than average risk of metabolic syndrome (including elevated blood sugar) and cardiovascular disease.
It’s also worth noting that hearing problems — including inner ear damage — have also been associated with other types of inflammatory arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis.
If you suspect that you’re having trouble hearing, consult your physician. You may need to see a specialist (an ENT or audiologist) for thorough testing and, if necessary, treatment.