From depression to dementia, numerous other health problems are linked to the health of your hearing. Your hearing is connected to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency tones, 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 sounds, but less severe. The researchers also found that subjects who were pre-diabetic, put simply, those with blood sugar levels that are elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes were 30 percent more likely to have hearing impairment than those with normal blood sugar levels. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study found a consistent link between hearing loss and diabetes.
So an increased danger of hearing loss is firmly connected to diabetes. But the real question is why is there a connection. Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide range of health issues, and particularly, can cause physical damage to the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One hypothesis is that the condition might impact the ears in an equivalent way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it might also be associated with general health management. People who failed to treat or manage their diabetes had worse outcomes according to one study conducted on military veterans. If you are worried that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to speak to a doctor and have your blood sugar checked.
2. Your Ears Can be Harmed by High Blood Pressure
It is well known 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 smoke. 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 direct relationship: In addition to the numerous tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s main arteries run right by it. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure frequently experience 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 result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the main hypothesis behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force with each beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. High blood pressure is treatable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re developing 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. Hearing Impairment And Dementia
Hearing loss may put you at a higher chance of dementia. Nearly 2000 people were analyzed over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the research revealed that even with mild 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. They also discovered a similar link to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these results, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the risk of someone without hearing loss. Severe hearing loss puts you at nearly 4x the risk.
The bottom line is, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, you need to get it evaluated and treated. Your health depends on it.