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Hormone replacement therapy linked to hearing loss

A pilot study by a research team at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf and the University of Rochester has revealed that women taking hormone replacement therapy risk hearing loss.

Women who received hormone replacement therapy (HRT) scored from 10 to 30 percent worse on hearing tests than women who had not taken hormones, said D. Robert Frisina Sr., director of the NTID-based International Center for Hearing and Speech Research (ICHSR).

D. Robert Frisina Sr. and Robert Frisina Jr. have discovered a possible link between hormone treatment and hearing loss.

The scientists used three tests to compare the hearing of 32 women between the ages of 60 and 86 who had hormone therapy to 32 other women who had not. While the HRT group performed worse across the board, it was in complex settings – such as the ability to listen to someone against a loud backdrop – that the HRT group fared worst.

“It’s important to alert women that there could be another significant side effect of hormone replacement therapy,” said Robert Frisina Jr., associate director of ICHSR and professor of Otolaryngology at UR Medical Center. “We know these findings clearly apply to the 64 women we studied. What we can’t say, from such a small number of people, is the extent to which they apply to everyone. A much larger study needs to be done.”

The team has already begun researching questions this finding has raised as well as others, such as how much and what kind of HRT made a difference in the hearing loss, and if hearing improves if HRT is discontinued.