From depression to dementia, many other health conditions are connected to your hearing health. 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 evaluated over 5,000 adults. Impairment was also more likely with high-frequency tones, but less severe. This same research revealed that people who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing loss. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study found a consistent connection between hearing loss and diabetes.
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is related to an increased risk of hearing impairment. But the real question is why is there a link. Science is at a bit of a loss here. A whole variety of health concerns have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the extremities, kidneys, and eyes. One theory is that the disease may impact the ears in an equivalent way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it might also be associated with overall health management. A study that looked at military veterans underscored the link between hearing impairment and diabetes, but in particular, it revealed that those with uncontrolled diabetes, essentially, individuals who are not managing their blood sugar or otherwise taking care of the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are concerned that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to talk to a doctor and have your blood sugar tested.
2. Your Ears Can be Harmed by High Blood Pressure
Numerous studies have shown 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. The results are consistent even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. Gender seems to be the only variable that matters: If you’re a man, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.
The circulatory system and the ears have a direct relationship: In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s main arteries run right by it. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. Because you can hear your own pulse with this kind of tinnitus, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. There’s more power behind every heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. The smaller blood vessels inside of your ears can be damaged by this. Both medical treatment and lifestyle changes can be used to help manage high blood pressure. 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 make an appointment to see us.
3. Dementia And Hearing Impairment
You may have a greater risk of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Nearly 2000 individuals were examined over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the study revealed that even with minor hearing loss (about 25 dB), the danger of dementia rises by 24%. And the worse the degree of hearing impairment, the higher the risk of dementia, according to another study carried out over a decade by the same researchers. They also discovered a similar connection to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these findings, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the chance of someone without hearing loss. Severe hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.
It’s crucial, then, to get your hearing examined. It’s about your state of health.