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 connected to your health.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
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 loss was not as severe but was also more likely. This same research revealed that people who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing loss. A more recent meta-study discovered that the link between hearing loss and diabetes was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So it’s pretty established that diabetes is connected to an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at an increased danger of experiencing hearing loss? When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have the answers. A whole variety of health problems have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the extremities, eyes, and kidneys. It’s feasible that diabetes has a similar damaging impact on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But management of overall health could also be a relevant possibility. Individuals who failed to treat or control their diabetes had worse consequences according to one study performed on military veterans. If you are concerned that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to talk to a doctor and have your blood sugar tested.
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 may actually speed up age-related hearing loss. The results are consistent even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you smoke. Gender seems to be the only variable that makes a difference: If you’re a male, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it: In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries go right near it. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure often experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is really 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 hypothesis behind why it would speed up 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 through 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 should schedule an appointment to see us.
3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia
Hearing loss may put you at a higher risk of dementia. Almost 2000 individuals 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 risk of dementia increases by 24%. Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than 10 years, revealed 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 a similar connection to hearing loss. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, based on these findings, than someone with normal hearing. The danger goes up to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.
The bottom line is, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, you need to get it evaluated and treated. Your health depends on it.