Our objectives are to examine whether patients with fibromyalgia (FM) present an increased risk of hearing loss (HL) compared with those without FM and to explore the relationship between comorbidities/drugs and development of HL in patients with FM. Furthermore, we investigated the incidence rate of different types of HL and the joint effects for HL with FM and comorbidities.
This population-based retrospective cohort study included patients with new-onset FM from 2000 to 2002 (the FM group) and age- and sex-matched randomized patients without FM (the non-FM group) from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database. Patients were followed up from baseline (3 months after FM diagnosis) until death, withdrawal, HL development, or December 31, 2013. The primary outcome was the risk of HL, which was assessed using Cox proportional-hazards analysis.
The overall HL risk in the FM group was 1.46-fold (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.38-1.55) higher than that in the non-FM group after adjustment for sex, age, and comorbidities (p < 0.0001). Patients with FM had significantly greater sensorineural HL (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.46, 95% CI: 1.37-1.56) than those without FM. Patients with FM having comorbidities of diabetes, hyperlipidemia, depression, and Meniere's disease had a higher risk of HL than those without FM.
Our findings support the notion that FM influences HL and is in line with the hypothesis that the FM mechanism is related to a central nervous system abnormality in sensory processing. Health care professionals should provide appropriate screening for the risk of HL and prevention and counseling methods for patients with FM.