From depression to dementia, numerous other health problems are linked to the health of your hearing. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is linked to your health.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, people with diabetes were two times as likely to experience mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that evaluated over 5,000 adults. With high-frequency sounds, hearing loss was not as severe but was also more likely. This same research revealed that individuals who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing impairment. A more recent meta-study revealed that the connection between hearing loss and diabetes was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is related to an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of suffering from hearing impairment? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health concerns, and in particular, can lead to physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and limbs. One hypothesis is that the disease may affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But management of your general health might also be a relevant possibility. Individuals who failed to deal with or control their diabetes had worse consequences according to one study conducted on military veterans. It’s important to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you suspect you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Damaged 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. Even when adjusting for variables like whether you smoke or your level of noise exposure, the results are solid. The only variable that appears to matter is gender: If you’re a male, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it: Besides the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go 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 called pulsatile tinnitus. The foremost theory why high blood pressure would accelerate hearing loss is that high blood pressure can cause physical damage to your ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force with each beat. The smaller blood vessels inside of your ears can be damaged by this. Both medical treatment and lifestyle changes can be used to help regulate high blood pressure. But if you think you’re developing hearing impairment, even if you think you’re not old enough for age-related hearing loss, you need to make an appointment to see us.
3. Hearing Loss And Dementia
You might have a greater chance of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that followed nearly 2,000 patients over the course of six years found that the risk of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than a decade, discovered that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. This research also revealed that Alzheimer’s had an equivalent connection to hearing loss. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, based on these findings, than someone with normal hearing. The risk rises to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.
It’s crucial, then, to have your hearing examined. It’s about your state of health.