High platelet counts and hemoglobin/hematocrit levels may be associated with hearing loss in patients with polycythemia vera, according to a study presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the Society of Hematologic Oncology.1

Patients with polycythemia vera may initially present with bilateral or unilateral sensorineural hearing loss, acute hearing loss, and vertigo. Therefore, researchers sought to evaluate the impact of polycythemia vera on hearing function and the frequency of hearing impairment in these patients.

For the study, investigators enrolled 21 patients with polycythemia vera diagnosed since 2013 and 20 healthy persons. All participants underwent ear-nose-throat examination, tone audiometry, distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE), and impedancemetry.

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Results showed that patients with polycythemia vera had a significantly higher incidence of cochlear impairment compared with controls (P =.004).

Researchers found that the mean hemoglobin and hematocrit levels of the polycythemia vera group were 16.7 g/dL and 50.4%, respectively, vs 13.4 g/dL and 40.3% in control arm. These differences were not statistically significant.

However, patients with polycythemia vera had significantly higher platelet counts compared with controls (P <.001). Further, nearly three-fourths of those with the myeloproliferative disorder and cochlear involvement had a platelet count greater than 394,000/mm3 (P =.005), suggesting a significant association between platelet count and hearing impairment in this population.

There was also a significant association between hemoglobin levels higher than 15.5 g/dL and cochlear involvement in patients with polycythemia vera.


1. Dogan E, Uslu M, Kiper H, Saydam G, Ogut M, Tobu M. The effect of polycythemia on hearing functions. Poster presented at: Society of Hematologic Oncology Fourth Annual Meeting; September 7-10, 2016; Houston, TX.