Your hearing health is linked to numerous other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Your hearing is connected to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, individuals with diabetes were two times as likely to have mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that observed over 5,000 adults. Hearing loss was also more likely with high-frequency tones, but not as severe. 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 revealed that the link between diabetes and hearing loss was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So a greater risk of hearing loss is firmly connected to diabetes. But the significant question is why is there a connection. When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have the answers. A whole variety of health concerns have been linked to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, kidneys, and eyes. One theory is that the disease could affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it may also be associated with general health management. A study that looked at military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it revealed that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise taking care of the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s essential to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you believe you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Damage 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 such as noise exposure and whether you smoke. Gender seems to be the only variable that makes a difference: Males 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 darn close to it: In addition to the numerous tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right by it. Individuals 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 theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could potentially injure the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re experiencing hearing impairment, even if you think you’re not old enough for age-related hearing loss, you should make an appointment to see us.
3. Hearing Loss And Dementia
Hearing loss might put you at a higher risk of dementia. Research from Johns Hopkins University that observed nearly 2,000 patients over the course of six years discovered that the risk of cognitive deterioration increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). And the worse the level of hearing loss, the higher the danger of dementia, according to another study carried out over a decade by the same researchers. They also found a similar connection to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these findings, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the risk of somebody without hearing loss. The danger rises to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.
It’s essential, then, to have your hearing tested. Your health depends on it.