Your hearing health is connected to many other health conditions, from depression to dementia. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is linked to your health.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
A widely-cited study that looked at over 5,000 adults revealed that people who had been diagnosed with diabetes were twice as likely to suffer mild or worse hearing loss when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. With high-frequency sounds, hearing loss was not as severe but was also more likely. The researchers also discovered 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% more likely to have hearing loss than those with regular blood sugar levels. A more recent meta-study discovered that the link between diabetes and hearing loss was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is linked to an increased danger of hearing impairment. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. A whole variety of health problems have been linked to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, eyes, and kidneys. It’s feasible that diabetes has a similar harmful affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But management of your general health may also be a relevant possibility. Research that looked at military veterans highlighted the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise taking care of the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s essential to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you think you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
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 make a difference is gender: Males who have high blood pressure are at a greater risk of hearing loss.
Your ears aren’t a component 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 by it. People with high blood pressure, in many cases, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the cause of their tinnitus. Because you can hear your own pulse with this type of tinnitus, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. The leading theory why high blood pressure would accelerate hearing loss is that high blood pressure can result in physical damage to your ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more power behind each beat. The smaller blood vessels inside of your ears can be injured by this. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re experiencing hearing impairment, even if you think you’re too young for age-related hearing loss, you need to make an appointment to see us.
3. Dementia And Hearing Loss
You may have a higher risk of dementia if you have hearing loss. Research from Johns Hopkins University that followed nearly 2,000 patients over six years found that the chance of cognitive deterioration 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, found that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. They also discovered a similar connection to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these findings, moderate hearing impairment puts you at 3X the chance of someone without hearing loss. The danger goes up to 4 times with severe hearing loss.
It’s crucial, then, to have your hearing examined. It’s about your state of health.