From depression to dementia, numerous other health problems are linked to the health of your hearing. Your hearing is linked to your health in the following ways.
1. your Hearing is Affected by Diabetes
A widely-cited study that looked at more than 5,000 adults revealed that individuals who had been diagnosed with diabetes were two times as likely to suffer mild or worse hearing impairment when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. With high-frequency sounds, hearing loss was not as severe but was also more likely. This same research reported that individuals who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing impairment. A more recent meta-study found that the connection between diabetes and hearing loss was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So it’s pretty established that diabetes is linked to an increased risk of hearing loss. But the real question is why is there a link. When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have an explanation. Diabetes is connected to a wide variety of health issues, and particularly, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. It’s possible that diabetes has a similar harmful affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But management of overall health may also be a relevant possibility. Research that looked at military veterans underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it revealed that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating 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 smoke. Gender appears to be the only variable that makes a difference: If you’re a male, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re in close relation to it: In addition to the numerous tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right by it. People with high blood pressure, in many cases, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the source of their tinnitus. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical harm to your ears, that’s the main hypothesis behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. There’s more power behind each heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. 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 impairment, even if you think you’re too young for age-related hearing loss, you should make an appointment to see us.
3. Dementia And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss might put you at a greater chance of dementia. Research from Johns Hopkins University that observed almost 2,000 people over six years discovered that the chance of cognitive deterioration increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). And the worse the level of hearing impairment, the higher the risk of dementia, according to another study conducted over 10 years by the same researchers. This research also revealed that Alzheimer’s had an equivalent link to hearing loss. Based on these findings, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the risk of somebody without hearing loss. Severe hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.
It’s crucial, then, to get your hearing tested. Your health depends on it.