Your hearing health is linked to many other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is connected to your health.
1. your Hearing is Affected by Diabetes
A widely-cited study that evaluated over 5,000 adults revealed 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. Hearing loss was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but not as severe. The researchers also found that subjects who were pre-diabetic, put simply, those who have blood sugar levels that are elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes were 30 percent more likely to have hearing loss than those with normal blood sugar levels. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study found a consistent connection between diabetes and hearing loss.
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is connected to an increased danger of hearing impairment. But the real question is why is there a connection. When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have an explanation. A whole range of health problems have been linked to diabetes, including damage to the extremities, kidneys, and eyes. It’s possible that diabetes has a similar damaging affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it could also be associated with overall health management. A study that looked at military veterans underscored the connection between hearing impairment and diabetes, but specifically, it revealed that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, 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 talk to a doctor and have your blood sugar tested.
2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure
It is well established that high blood pressure has a connection to, if not accelerates, hearing loss. The results are consistent even when taking into consideration variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. Gender appears to be the only variable that makes a difference: 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 primary arteries run right by it. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure often experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is really their own blood pumping. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical harm to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. The smaller blood vessels in your ears can be injured by this. High blood pressure is manageable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re suffering from 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
Hearing loss may put you at a greater chance of dementia. Nearly 2000 people were studied over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the study revealed that even with mild hearing loss (about 25 dB), the danger of dementia rises by 24%. Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than 10 years, found 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 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. Extreme hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.
It’s crucial, then, to get your hearing examined. Your health depends on it.