Your hearing health is linked to numerous other health conditions, from depression to dementia. Your hearing is linked to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, people with diabetes were two times as likely to have mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that looked at over 5,000 adults. With high-frequency sounds, hearing loss 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. A more recent meta-study revealed that the connection between diabetes and hearing loss was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So it’s pretty recognized that diabetes is linked to an increased risk of hearing loss. But the significant question is why is there a link. Science is at a bit of a loss here. A whole range of health concerns have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the extremities, eyes, and kidneys. One hypothesis is that the disease could affect the ears in an equivalent way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be related to overall health management. People who failed to treat or manage their diabetes had worse consequences according to one study carried out on military veterans. If you are worried that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to talk to a doctor and get your blood sugar checked.
2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure
Numerous studies have revealed that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure could actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. Even when taking into consideration variables such as whether you smoke or your level of noise exposure, the results are consistent. Gender seems to be the only variable that makes a difference: Men 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: Two of your body’s primary arteries run directly past your ears in addition to the presence of tiny blood vessels in your ears. Individuals with high blood pressure, often, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the cause of their tinnitus. That’s why this type of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. 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 force with each beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. High blood pressure is manageable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re developing hearing impairment, even if you think you’re not old enough for age-related hearing loss, you need to schedule an appointment to see us.
3. Dementia And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss might put you at a greater risk of dementia. Research from Johns Hopkins University that observed nearly 2,000 people over six years found that the risk of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing impairment (about 25 dB). And the worse the degree of hearing impairment, the higher the risk of dementia, according to another study carried out over 10 years by the same researchers. They also found a similar link to Alzheimer’s Disease. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, based on these findings, than someone with functional hearing. The risk increases to 4 times with severe hearing loss.
It’s crucial, then, to get your hearing examined. Your health depends on it.