Your hearing health is linked to numerous other health conditions, from depression to dementia. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is connected to your health.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency tones, people with diabetes were twice as likely to have mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that looked at over 5,000 adults. 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 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 pretty recognized that diabetes is related to an increased risk of hearing loss. But the significant question is why is there a link. Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide variety of health problems, and in particular, can cause physical damage to the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. It’s possible that diabetes has a similar damaging affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it might also be associated with overall health management. People who failed to deal with or manage their diabetes had worse outcomes according to one study performed 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. High Blood Pressure Can Damage Your Ears
It is well known that high blood pressure has a connection to, if not accelerates, 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 matter is gender: 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 close relationship: Besides the many tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right by it. People with high blood pressure, in many cases, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the source of their tinnitus. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially lead to physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would speed up hearing loss. There’s more force behind each heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. Both medical treatment and lifestyle changes can be used to help regulate high blood pressure. 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 make an appointment to see us.
3. Dementia And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss might put you at a greater risk of dementia. Almost 2000 people were examined over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the study revealed that even with mild hearing loss (about 25 dB), the risk of dementia rises by 24%. And the worse the degree of hearing impairment, the higher the danger of dementia, according to another study conducted over 10 years by the same researchers. This research also revealed that Alzheimer’s had a similar connection to hearing loss. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, according to these findings, than someone with normal hearing. Extreme hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.
The bottom line is, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, you need to get it evaluated and treated. It’s about your state of health.