Your hearing health is linked to many other health conditions, from depression to dementia. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is related to your health.
1. your Hearing is Affected by Diabetes
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, individuals with diabetes were two times as likely to have mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that observed over 5,000 adults. With high-frequency sounds, hearing impairment was not as severe but was also more likely. The researchers also discovered that subjects who were pre-diabetic, in other words, those with blood sugar levels that are elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes were 30 percent more likely to have hearing loss than people with regular blood sugar levels. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study revealed a consistent link between diabetes and hearing loss.
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is related to an increased risk of hearing impairment. But the significant question is why is there a connection. Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide variety of health problems, and particularly, can lead to physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and limbs. One hypothesis is that the disease may affect the ears in an equivalent way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But management of your general health may also be a relevant possibility. People who failed to treat or control their diabetes had worse consequences according to one study conducted on military veterans. It’s important to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you suspect you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure
Multiple studies have revealed 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 man, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
The ears and the circulatory system have a direct relationship: In addition to the numerous tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s main arteries run right by it. People with high blood pressure, in many cases, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the cause of their tinnitus. Because you can hear your own pulse with this type of tinnitus, it’s known as 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. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more power behind every beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. High blood pressure is treatable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re experiencing hearing loss, 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. Nearly 2000 individuals were studied over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the study revealed that even with minor hearing loss (about 25 dB), the risk of dementia increases by 24%. Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than a decade, revealed that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. These studies also revealed that Alzheimer’s had an equivalent connection to hearing loss. Based on these findings, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the chance of somebody without hearing loss. The risk rises to 4 times with severe hearing loss.
The truth is, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, you need to get it tested and treated. Your health depends on it.