From depression to dementia, numerous other health conditions are linked to your hearing health. Your hearing is connected to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, people with diabetes were two times as likely to have mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that evaluated 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 loss. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study revealed a consistent connection between diabetes and hearing loss.
So it’s pretty recognized that diabetes is linked to an increased risk of hearing impairment. But the significant question is why is there a link. Science is at a bit of a loss here. A whole variety of health issues have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, kidneys, and eyes. It’s feasible that diabetes has a similar damaging affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But management of your general health might also be a relevant possibility. A study that observed military veterans highlighted the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, essentially, people who are not monitoring 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
It is well established that high blood pressure has a connection to, if not accelerates, hearing loss. Even when adjusting for variables like whether you smoke or your amount of noise exposure, the results are solid. Gender seems to be the only variable that makes a difference: If you’re a male, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
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 inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries go right near it. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. Because you can hear your own pulse with this type of tinnitus, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. The leading theory why high blood pressure would speed up hearing loss is that high blood pressure can result in physical harm to your ears. There’s more force behind each heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. The smaller blood vessels in your ears can be damaged by this. Both medical treatment and lifestyle changes can be used to help regulate high blood pressure. But you should schedule an appointment for a hearing exam if you suspect you are experiencing any amount of hearing loss.
3. Dementia And Hearing Loss
You might have a higher risk of dementia if you have hearing loss. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that followed almost 2,000 people over the course of six years discovered that the danger of cognitive deterioration increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than a decade, discovered that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. These studies also revealed that Alzheimer’s had an equivalent connection to hearing loss. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, according to these findings, than somebody with functional hearing. The danger rises to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.
The bottom line is, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, you need to get it evaluated and treated. It’s about your state of health.