Your hearing health is connected to numerous other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is connected to your health.
1. your Hearing is Impacted by Diabetes
A widely-cited study that looked at more than 5,000 adults revealed that people who had been diagnosed with diabetes were twice as likely to endure mild or worse hearing loss when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. With high-frequency sounds, hearing loss was not as severe but was also more likely. This same research reported that individuals who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing impairment. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study found a consistent connection between hearing loss and diabetes.
So a greater risk of hearing impairment is solidly connected to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of suffering from hearing impairment? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health concerns, and particularly, can lead to physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. It’s possible that diabetes has a similar damaging impact on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it may also be associated with general health management. Research that observed military veterans underscored the link between hearing impairment and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s important to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you believe you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure
Multiple studies have shown that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. Even when adjusting for variables like whether you smoke or your level of noise exposure, the results are consistent. Gender appears to be the only variable that matters: 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 close relationship: Besides the numerous tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right by it. This is one reason why those who have high blood pressure frequently experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is really their own blood pumping. That’s why this type of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The foremost theory why high blood pressure would accelerate hearing loss is that high blood pressure can cause physical damage to your ears. There’s more power with every heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. The smaller blood vessels in your ears can be damaged by this. High blood pressure is manageable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re suffering from hearing loss, even if you think you’re not old enough for age-related hearing loss, you need to schedule an appointment to see us.
3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia
You may have a higher risk of dementia if you have hearing loss. Nearly 2000 people were studied over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the research revealed that even with minor hearing loss (about 25 dB), the danger of dementia increases by 24%. Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than 10 years, found that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. This research also demonstrated that Alzheimer’s had an equivalent connection to hearing loss. Based on these results, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the chance of somebody without hearing loss. The danger rises to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.
The truth is, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, you need to get it tested and treated. It’s about your state of health.