Your hearing health is connected to many other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is related to your health.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, people with diabetes were twice as likely to experience mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that looked at over 5,000 adults. Hearing loss was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but not as severe. This same research revealed that people who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing loss. A more recent meta-study discovered that the connection between hearing loss and diabetes was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So an increased risk of hearing loss is solidly linked to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at a higher danger of experiencing hearing impairment? Science is at a bit of a loss here. A whole variety of health issues have been linked to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, eyes, and kidneys. One theory is that the condition could impact the ears in an equivalent way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be related to overall health management. Individuals who failed to deal with or control their diabetes had worse outcomes according to one study carried out on military veterans. It’s important to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you believe you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Damage Your Ears
Multiple studies have demonstrated that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure could actually speed up age-related hearing loss. The results are consistent even when taking into consideration variables like noise exposure and whether you smoke. The only variable that appears to matter is gender: If you’re a male, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re in close relation to it: In addition to the numerous tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries run right by it. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure frequently suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is really their own blood pumping. Because you can hear your own pulse with this kind of tinnitus, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. There’s more force behind each heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. That could potentially injure the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. Both medical intervention and lifestyle changes can be used to help manage high blood pressure. But if you think you’re developing hearing impairment, even if you think you’re not old enough for age-related hearing loss, you should schedule an appointment to see us.
3. Dementia And Hearing Impairment
Hearing loss might put you at a greater chance of dementia. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that followed almost 2,000 people over six years found that the danger of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). And the worse the degree of hearing impairment, the higher the danger of dementia, according to another study carried out over 10 years by the same researchers. These studies also demonstrated that Alzheimer’s had a similar connection to hearing loss. Based on these findings, moderate hearing impairment puts you at 3X the risk of somebody without hearing loss. Severe hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.
The bottom line is, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, you should get it evaluated and treated. It’s about your state of health.