Coastal Hearing Aid Center - Encinitas, CA

Doctor speaks with patient about medical conditions related to hearing loss and tinnitus.

Aging is one of the most typical signals of hearing loss and let’s be honest, as hard as we might try, we can’t stop aging. But were you aware hearing loss has also been linked to between
loss problems
that are treatable, and in certain scenarios, can be avoided? Here’s a peek at several cases that might surprise you.

1: Diabetes

Over 5,000 American adults were examined in a 2008 study which revealed that diabetes diagnosed individuals were twice as likely to have mild or greater hearing loss when mid or low frequency sounds were applied to test them. Impairment was also more probable with high-frequency sounds, but not as extreme. The analysts also observed that individuals who were pre-diabetic, in other words, individuals with blood sugar levels that are higher, but not high enough to be defined as diabetes, were 30 percent more likely to suffer from hearing loss than individuals with normal blood sugar. A more recent 2013 meta-study (yup, a study of studies) discovered that there was a persistent association between loss of hearing and diabetes, even when taking into consideration other variables.

So it’s well determined that diabetes is linked to an increased risk of hearing loss. But why would you be at increased danger of getting diabetes simply because you suffer from hearing loss? The reason isn’t really well comprehended. Diabetes is related to a number of health concerns, and notably, can result in physical damage to the extremities, eyes and kidneys. One hypothesis is that the condition might impact the ears in a similar manner, hurting blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be related to general health management. A 2015 study highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes in U.S veterans, but most notably, it revealed that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, that those with uncontrolled and untreated diabetes, it found, suffered worse. It’s necessary to get your blood sugar analyzed and speak to a doctor if you believe you may have undiagnosed diabetes or might be pre-diabetic. It’s a good idea to get your hearing tested if you’re having trouble hearing also.

2: Falling

You could have a bad fall. It’s not really a health issue, because it isn’t vertigo but it can trigger many other difficulties. Research conducted in 2012 disclosed a definite link between the danger of falling and hearing loss though you might not have suspected that there was a link between the two. While examining over 2,000 adults between the ages of 40 to 69, scientists discovered that for every 10 dB rise in hearing loss (as an example, normal breathing is about 10 dB), the chance of falling increased 1.4X. This connection held up even for individuals with mild hearing loss: Those with 25 dB hearing loss were 3 times as likely as those with normal hearing to have had a fall within the previous 12 months.

Why should you fall because you are having problems hearing? There are several reasons why hearing problems can lead to a fall other than the role your ears play in balance. While the reason for the subject’s falls wasn’t looked at in this study,, it was suspected by the authors that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing an important sound such as a car honking) could be one problem. But if you’re struggling to pay attention to sounds around you, your divided attention means you might be paying less attention to your physical environment and that could end up in a fall. What’s promising here is that treating loss of hearing might potentially decrease your chance of suffering a fall.

3: High Blood Pressure

A variety of studies (including this one from 2018) have found that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure and some (like this 2013 research) have found that high blood pressure might actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. It’s a connection that’s been found fairly consistently, even while controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. Gender is the only variable that seems to matter: The connection between high blood pressure and loss of hearing, if your a guy, is even stronger.

Your ears are very closely related to your circulatory system: Two main arteries are very close to the ears and additionally the little blood vessels inside them. This is one explanation why individuals who have high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. (That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; it’s your own pulse your hearing.) But high blood pressure may also potentially cause physical injury to your ears which is the main theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. Each beat has more force if your heart is pumping harder. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. lifestyle changes and medical intervention, high blood pressure can be managed. But if you think you’re suffering from loss of hearing even if you think you’re too young for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to consult a hearing care professional.

4: Dementia

Risk of dementia could be higher with loss of hearing. 2013 research from Johns Hopkins University that followed almost 2,000 individuals in their 70’s during the period of six years discovered that the risk of mental impairment increased by 24% with just minor loss of hearing (about 25 dB, or slightly louder than a whisper). It was also discovered, in a study from 2011 conducted by the same group of researchers, that the danger of dementia raised proportionally the worse hearing loss was. (Alzheimer’s was also discovered to have a similar link, even though it was less significant.) moderate loss of hearing, based on these findings, puts you at three times the risk of somebody with no hearing loss; severe loss of hearing nearly quintuples one’s chance.

It’s scary information, but it’s significant to note that while the connection between hearing loss and mental decline has been well documented, scientists have been less successful at figuring out why the two are so strongly connected. A common hypothesis is that having trouble hearing can cause people to avoid social situations, and that social isolation and lack of mental stimulation can be incapacitating. Another theory is that loss of hearing short circuits your brain. Essentially, trying to perceive sounds around you exhausts your brain so you might not have much energy left for recalling things like where you put your keys. Staying in close communication with friends and family and keeping the brain active and challenged could help here, but so can dealing with loss of hearing. If you’re capable of hearing clearly, social situations become much easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the necessary things instead of trying to figure out what someone just said. So if you are dealing with hearing loss, you need to put a plan of action in place including having a hearing test.

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