From depression to dementia, numerous other health conditions are linked to your hearing health. Your hearing is linked to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
A widely-cited study that evaluated more than 5,000 adults found that individuals who had been diagnosed with diabetes were two times as likely to experience mild or worse hearing loss when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. Impairment was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but less severe. The researchers also discovered that subjects who were pre-diabetic, put simply, those with blood sugar levels that are elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes were 30 percent more likely to have hearing impairment than people with regular blood sugar levels. A more recent meta-study discovered that the connection between hearing loss and diabetes was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So an increased risk of hearing impairment is firmly connected to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss? When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have an explanation. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health concerns, and in particular, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and limbs. One hypothesis is that the condition could impact the ears in an equivalent way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it may also be related to overall health management. Research that observed military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it revealed that those with uncontrolled diabetes, essentially, individuals who are not managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s important to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you suspect you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Damage Your Ears
Multiple studies have revealed that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. Even when taking into consideration variables such as whether you smoke or your amount of noise exposure, the results are solid. Gender appears to be the only variable that matters: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
The circulatory system and the ears have a direct relationship: Besides the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s main arteries run right near it. Individuals with high blood pressure, often, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the cause of their tinnitus. Because you can hear your own pulse with this type of tinnitus, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. The foremost theory why high blood pressure would accelerate 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. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Both medical treatment and lifestyle changes can be used to help regulate 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 schedule an appointment to see us.
3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia
Hearing loss might put you at a higher risk of dementia. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that followed almost 2,000 people over the course of six years found that the danger of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). And the worse the level of hearing impairment, the higher the danger of dementia, according to another study carried out over a decade by the same researchers. This research also demonstrated that Alzheimer’s had an equivalent link to hearing loss. Based on these results, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the chance of someone without hearing loss. Extreme hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.
The truth is, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, you need to get it evaluated and treated. It’s about your state of health.