Your hearing health is connected to many other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is related to your health.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, 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. With high-frequency sounds, hearing impairment was not as severe but was also more likely. This same research revealed that people who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing impairment. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study revealed a consistent link between diabetes and hearing loss.
So an increased risk of hearing impairment is firmly connected to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. A whole range of health problems have been linked to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, kidneys, and eyes. It’s feasible that diabetes has a similar damaging affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it may also be associated with general health management. Research that observed military veterans underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, essentially, people who are not managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are worried that you may be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to consult with a doctor and have your blood sugar tested.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Harm Your Ears
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 such as noise exposure and whether you smoke. The only variable that appears to matter is gender: Men who have high blood pressure are at a higher danger of hearing loss.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it: Two of your body’s main arteries run directly by your ears in addition to the presence of tiny blood vessels in your ears. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The leading theory why high blood pressure would speed up hearing loss is that high blood pressure can cause physical damage to your ears. There’s more power behind every heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. 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 too young for age-related hearing loss, you need to make an appointment to see us.
3. Dementia And Hearing Impairment
Hearing loss may put you at a greater risk of dementia. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that observed almost 2,000 patients over six years discovered that the danger of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than 10 years, discovered that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. This research also revealed 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 functional hearing. Severe hearing loss puts you at nearly 4x the risk.
It’s essential, then, to have your hearing examined. It’s about your state of health.