From depression to dementia, many other health conditions are linked to the health of your hearing. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is related to your health.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
A widely-cited study that examined over 5,000 adults found that individuals who had been diagnosed with diabetes were twice as likely to endure mild or worse hearing impairment when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. Impairment was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but not as severe. The researchers also discovered 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. A more recent meta-study discovered that the connection between diabetes and hearing loss was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So it’s pretty established that diabetes is connected to an increased risk of hearing loss. But the significant question is why is there a link. Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health concerns, and in particular, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and limbs. One hypothesis is that the disease could 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. Research that observed military veterans underscored the connection between hearing impairment and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, essentially, people who are not monitoring their blood sugar or otherwise taking care of the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s important to have a doctor test your blood sugar if you believe you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure
It is well known that high blood pressure plays a part in, if not accelerates, hearing loss. The results are consistent even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. The only variable that appears to make a difference is gender: Males with high blood pressure are at a higher danger of hearing loss.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it: Two of your body’s primary arteries run right past your ears besides the presence of tiny blood vessels in your ears. People with high blood pressure, often, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the source of their tinnitus. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is known as 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 accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could potentially injure the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Both medical intervention and lifestyle changes can be used to help manage high blood pressure. But if you think you’re developing hearing loss, even if you think you’re too young for age-related hearing loss, you need to schedule an appointment to see us.
3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia
You may have a higher chance of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Research from Johns Hopkins University that observed nearly 2,000 patients over the course of six years found that the risk of cognitive deterioration increased by 24% with just mild hearing impairment (about 25 dB). And the worse the degree of hearing loss, the higher the risk of dementia, according to another study carried out over 10 years by the same researchers. These studies also demonstrated that Alzheimer’s had a similar connection to hearing loss. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, based on these findings, than someone with normal hearing. The danger increases to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.
The bottom line is, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, you should get it evaluated and treated. It’s about your state of health.