Audiologic and Cognitive Manifestations of Rheumatoid Disease

Rheumatic diseases are characterized by inflammation in joints, muscles, and for some organs of the body including the brain. Many are considered immune mitigated diseases. Hearing loss has been found in patients with rheumatic diseases, although results range considerably. Because the middle ear is comprised of muscles, joints, and cartilage, rheumatic diseases have the potential to affect middle ear function as well as the inner ear due to inflammation, reduced vascularity, and ototoxic medications used to treat rheumatic diseases. Audiological manifestations reported in published studies range considerably. These variations in results can be explained not only by methodology differences but also lack of consistency in the hearing evaluation protocols. Cognitive-linguistic effects are also prevalent in this population. This presentation will discuss current research findings, the challenges of conducting research in this area, and the findings of an on-going research project which evaluates patients with rheumatic diseases following a comprehensive audiological evaluation and cognitive-linguistic testing. Results categorized according to rheumatic disease type will be compared. Age-matched controls were used for comparison.  Clinical applications will be discussed regarding the assessment and management of clients with rheumatic disease.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Define rheumatic disease
  2. Identify areas of possible auditory and cognitive deficits associated with rheumatic disease
  3. Identify appropriate measures for audiological assessment and management in clients with rheumatic disease.