Your hearing health is linked to many other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is linked to your health.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, individuals with diabetes were twice as likely to have mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that observed over 5,000 adults. With high-frequency sounds, hearing impairment was not as severe but was also more likely. 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 found that the connection between diabetes and hearing loss was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So an increased danger of hearing loss is solidly linked to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at a higher danger of experiencing hearing impairment? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health problems, and in particular, can lead to physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and limbs. It’s feasible that diabetes has a similar damaging affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it may also be associated with general health management. Individuals who failed to treat or manage their diabetes had worse consequences according to one study carried out 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. High Blood Pressure Can Harm Your Ears
It is well known that high blood pressure has a connection to, if not accelerates, hearing loss. Even when adjusting for variables like whether you smoke or your level of noise exposure, the results are solid. Gender appears to be the only variable that matters: 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 darn close to it: Besides the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right near it. People with high blood pressure, in many cases, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the cause of their tinnitus. Because you can hear your own pulse with this kind of tinnitus, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical harm to your ears, that’s the main hypothesis behind why it would speed up hearing loss. There’s more power with each heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries in your ears. High blood pressure is manageable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re developing hearing loss, even if you think you’re too young for age-related hearing loss, you should make an appointment to see us.
3. Hearing Loss And Dementia
You may have a greater risk of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that followed nearly 2,000 people over the course of six years discovered that the risk of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than 10 years, discovered that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. 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 somebody with functional hearing. Extreme hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.
The truth is, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, you need to get it evaluated and treated. It’s about your state of health.