From depression to dementia, numerous other health problems are connected to the health of your hearing. Your hearing is linked to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
A widely-cited study that evaluated more than 5,000 adults determined that individuals 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. Impairment was also more likely with high-frequency tones, but not as severe. This same research reported that individuals 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 found a consistent connection between hearing loss and diabetes.
So an increased risk of hearing loss is firmly linked to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of experiencing hearing impairment? When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have the answers. A whole variety of health issues have been linked to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, eyes, and kidneys. It’s possible that diabetes has a similar harmful impact on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it could also be associated with overall health management. Research that looked at military veterans highlighted the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it revealed that those with uncontrolled diabetes, essentially, people who are not managing 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 might have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Harm Your Ears
It is well established that high blood pressure has a connection to, 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 seems to make a difference is gender: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
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 frequently suffer from 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 lead to physical harm to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would speed up hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more power with each beat. The smaller blood vessels in your ears can be damaged by this. High blood pressure is manageable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re suffering from hearing loss, even if you think you’re not old enough for age-related hearing loss, you need to schedule an appointment to see us.
3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia
You may have a higher risk of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Nearly 2000 people were studied over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the research revealed that even with minor hearing loss (about 25 dB), the risk of dementia rises by 24%. Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than a decade, revealed that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. These studies also revealed that Alzheimer’s had a similar link to hearing loss. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, according to these findings, than someone with functional hearing. The risk rises to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.
The truth is, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, you need to get it evaluated and treated. It’s about your state of health.