Your hearing health is connected to numerous other health conditions, from depression to dementia. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is linked to your health.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency tones, people with diabetes were twice as likely to experience mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that looked at over 5,000 adults. Impairment was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but not as severe. This same research revealed that individuals who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing impairment. A more recent meta-study discovered that the connection between hearing loss and diabetes was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So it’s pretty recognized that diabetes is linked to an increased danger of hearing loss. But the real question is why is there a connection. When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have an explanation. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health problems, and in particular, can result in physical damage to the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One hypothesis is that the disease could impact the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But management of your general health may also be a relevant possibility. Individuals who failed to treat or control their diabetes had worse consequences according to one study conducted on military veterans. It’s essential 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 Harmed by High Blood Pressure
Multiple studies have demonstrated that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure could actually speed up age-related 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 matter is gender: Males who have high blood pressure are at a higher risk of hearing loss.
The ears and the circulatory system have a close relationship: In addition to the many tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right by it. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure frequently experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is really their own blood pumping. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The leading theory why high blood pressure would accelerate hearing loss is that high blood pressure can lead to physical damage to your ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force with each beat. The smaller blood vessels inside of your ears can be damaged by this. High blood pressure is treatable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you need to schedule an appointment for a hearing exam if you suspect you are experiencing any degree of hearing loss.
3. Dementia And Hearing Impairment
Hearing loss may put you at a greater chance of dementia. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that observed nearly 2,000 people over six years found that the chance of cognitive deterioration increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (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 discovered a similar connection to Alzheimer’s Disease. 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 severe hearing loss.
It’s crucial, then, to get your hearing examined. It’s about your state of health.