Objectives The aim of this study was to evaluate the pattern of hearing impairment in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients compared to healthy controls and to examine associations between hearing impairment and disease activity of RA assessed by the disease activity index-DAS 28.
Methods This is a cross-sectional study with 2 groups: 22 RA patients (20 women and 2 men, mean age of 44.2 years, disease duration median of 41 months (21, 141)) and 17 healthy subjects (13 women and 4 men, mean age of 41 years) apparied for age and sex. No subject of the 2 groups has had any abnormalities at otoscopic examination. Hearing impairment was evaluated by pure tone audiometry and tympanometry including the static compliance, middle ear pressure, stapedial reflex threshold test. RA disease activity was assessed using the DAS28 (remission was defined by a DAS 28<2.6).
Results Conductive hearing loss (CHL) was found in 14 patients vs 2 controls (p=0.05). The stapedial reflex was absent in 10 RA patients vs none in healthy controls (p=0.04). Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) was found in 4 patients and none in controls. Mixed hearing loss was found in 4 patients but none in controls.
Hearing loss in RA was more prevalent in RA patients with an active disease (p=0.04)
Conclusions This study suggests that hearing loss risk is higher in RA patients compared to healthy controls and seems to be associated to disease activity. Audiological evaluation should be performed periodically to identify possible audiological damage.
Nevertheless, those results should also be confirmed by larger studies.
Disclosure of Interest None declared