From depression to dementia, many other health conditions are connected to your hearing health. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is related to your health.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
A widely-cited study that observed more than 5,000 adults found that people who had been diagnosed with diabetes were two times as likely to endure mild or worse hearing impairment when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. Hearing loss was also more likely with high-frequency tones, 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% more likely to have hearing impairment than those with normal blood sugar levels. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study found a consistent link between diabetes and hearing loss.
So an increased risk of hearing impairment is firmly linked to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of suffering from hearing impairment? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health issues, and in particular, can result in physical damage to the kidneys, eyes, and limbs. One hypothesis is that the condition may affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in 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 essential to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you think you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure
Numerous studies have shown 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 like whether you smoke or your amount of noise exposure, the results are solid. The only variable that seems to make a difference is gender: If you’re a man, the link 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: Besides the numerous tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s main arteries run 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. Because you can hear your own pulse with this kind of tinnitus, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially lead to physical harm to your ears, that’s the main hypothesis behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force with every 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 you should schedule an appointment for a hearing examination if you think you are experiencing any amount of hearing impairment.
3. Dementia And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss may put you at a greater risk of dementia. Nearly 2000 people were studied over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the study revealed that even with mild hearing loss (about 25 dB), the danger of dementia increases by 24%. And the worse the degree of hearing impairment, the higher the risk of dementia, according to another study conducted over a decade by the same researchers. They also found a similar link to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these findings, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the chance of someone without hearing loss. The risk increases to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.
It’s crucial, then, to get your hearing examined. Your health depends on it.