Woman scratching at psoriasis not realizing it can lead to hearing loss.

The word psoriasis commonly conjures up recollections of people with skin issues like the ones on all those commercials. Psoriasis affects your overall health and not just your skin. Psoriasis is commonly misunderstood and minimized, due to a lack of knowledge of how psoriasis impacts sufferers as well as the serious conditions that can be related to this disorder. Though plaques on the skin are its most apparent indicator, they’re indicative of what psoriasis can cause in the whole body: Chronic Irritation that can raise the chance of metabolic disorders and cardiovascular disease.

Psoriasis is also connected to another problem according to a different recent study: Hearing loss. Published in The Journal of Rheumatology, this study considered connections between psoriatic arthritis, mental health, and hearing impairment. Psoriatic arthritis is a form of psoriasis where inflammation is concentrated near the joints, causing inflammation, pain, and difficulty moving. Afflicted individuals may also suffer from psoriasis, but with psoriatic arthritis, it’s possible to have irritation without also experiencing the common plaques.

Like rheumatoid arthritis (and like psoriasis), psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune illness, the sufferer’s body is essentially targeting its own healthy cells. But psoriatic arthritis differs from rheumatoid arthritis in that it’s usually asymmetrical (so you could have it in one knee but not the other), and it doesn’t only impact joints but results in painfully swollen toes and fingers while it targets sufferer’s nails and eyes.

Based on the findings of this recent study, inflammation from psoriatic arthritis may also impact hearing. The study contrasted the self-reported hearing loss of people who suffer from psoriatic arthritis, people who suffer from psoriasis but not psoriatic arthritis, and a large control group of people who had neither condition. They found that hearing loss was more likely to be documented by the group that had psoriasis, and those reports were supported by audiometric testing. Even when controlling for other risk considerations, people diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis were significantly more likely to have loss of hearing than either {the control group or psoriasis sufferers}.

But that’s not to say there’s no link between psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and loss of hearing. A 2015 study found that there is a significantly higher risk, for people with psoriasis, of developing sudden sensorineural loss of hearing, also called sudden deafness. With sudden sensorineural hearing loss, people’s ability to hear diminishes substantially in three days or less. There are numerous potential causes for this, but experts believe that sudden psoriasis flare-ups might be the cause. The hearing might be affected if this takes place around or in the cochlea. In some instances, treatments that alleviate psoriasis symptoms could be used to manage this form of hearing loss, but hearing aids are often recommended when other treatments don’t appear to be working.

If you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, it’s worthwhile to observe your hearing. Plan regular hearing exams along with your annual health-care checkups. Disease related to inflammation can lead to injury of the inner ear, which can lead to psoriasis and loss of balance. There are also links between psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, depression and anxiety, which can both aggravated hearing loss. Other health concerns, like dementia, can be the result if you don’t catch loss of hearing sooner than later.

Recognition is key, and working with your doctors and regularly having your hearing tested can help you keep in front of symptoms with timely intervention. Neither hearing loss nor psoriasis should cause you to compromise your quality of life, and all the difference is having the right team on your side.

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