From depression to dementia, many other health problems are linked to your hearing health. Your hearing is connected to your health in the following ways.
1. your Hearing is Affected by Diabetes
A widely-cited study that observed more than 5,000 adults determined that people who had been diagnosed with diabetes were two times 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 people who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing loss. A more recent meta-study found that the link between diabetes and hearing loss was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is linked to an increased danger of hearing loss. But the significant question is why is there a link. Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide range of health problems, and particularly, can lead to physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. It’s feasible that diabetes has a similar harmful impact on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But management of your general health might also be a relevant possibility. A study that observed military veterans underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it revealed that those with uncontrolled diabetes, essentially, individuals who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are concerned that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to consult with a doctor and get your blood sugar checked.
2. Your Ears Can be Harmed by High Blood Pressure
Numerous studies have revealed that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually speed up age-related hearing loss. Even when adjusting for variables like whether you smoke or your level of noise exposure, the results are consistent. The only variable that appears to make a difference is gender: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it: Two of your body’s primary arteries run directly past your ears besides the presence of tiny blood vessels in your ears. This is one reason why those who have high blood pressure frequently experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. 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 lead to physical harm to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would speed up hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more power with each beat. The smaller blood vessels inside of your ears can be injured by this. High blood pressure is treatable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you should schedule an appointment for a hearing examination if you think you are experiencing any amount of hearing loss.
3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia
Hearing loss might put you at a higher chance of dementia. Research from Johns Hopkins University that observed almost 2,000 patients over six years found that the risk of cognitive deterioration increased by 24% with just mild hearing impairment (about 25 dB). And the worse the degree of hearing impairment, the higher the risk of dementia, according to another study conducted over a decade by the same researchers. They also found a similar connection to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these findings, moderate hearing impairment puts you at 3X the chance of someone without hearing loss. Extreme hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.
The bottom line is, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, you should get it tested and treated. Your health depends on it.