From depression to dementia, many other health conditions 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 over 5,000 adults revealed that people 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 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 loss. A more recent meta-study revealed that the connection between hearing loss and diabetes was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is related to an increased risk of hearing impairment. But why would diabetes put you at a higher danger of experiencing hearing impairment? When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have an explanation. Diabetes is connected to a wide variety of health problems, and in particular, can lead to physical damage to the kidneys, eyes, and limbs. 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. People who failed to treat or control their diabetes had worse outcomes according to one study performed on military veterans. It’s important to have a doctor test your blood sugar if you suspect you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure
Multiple 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 adjusting for variables like whether you smoke or your amount of noise exposure, the results are solid. The only variable that seems to matter is gender: Men who have high blood pressure are at a greater risk of hearing loss.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re in close relation to it: Besides the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries run right near it. Individuals with high blood pressure, often, 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. The leading theory why high blood pressure would speed up hearing loss is that high blood pressure can lead to physical harm to your ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force with each beat. The smaller blood vessels in your ears can be injured by this. Both medical intervention and lifestyle changes can be used to help manage high blood pressure. But if you think you’re experiencing hearing impairment, even if you think you’re not old enough for age-related hearing loss, you need to make an appointment to see us.
3. Hearing Loss And Dementia
You may have a greater chance of dementia if you have hearing loss. Studies 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 loss, the higher the risk of dementia, according to another study conducted over a decade 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 danger increases to 4 times with severe hearing loss.
The bottom line is, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, you need to get it tested and treated. Your health depends on it.