From depression to dementia, many other health problems are connected to your hearing health. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is connected to your health.
1. your Hearing is Impacted by Diabetes
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, individuals with diabetes were twice as likely to experience 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 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 connected to an increased danger of hearing impairment. But the real question is why is there a link. When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have an explanation. Diabetes is linked to a wide range of health issues, and in particular, can cause physical damage to the kidneys, eyes, and limbs. One hypothesis is that the disease might affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But management of overall health could also be a relevant possibility. A study that observed military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it revealed that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, people who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s important to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you believe you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure
Multiple studies have demonstrated that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure could actually speed up age-related hearing loss. The results are consistent even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you smoke. Gender appears to be the only variable that matters: If you’re a male, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.
The circulatory system and the ears have a close relationship: Two of your body’s primary arteries run directly past your ears in addition to the presence of tiny blood vessels in your ears. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure frequently suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is really their own blood pumping. Because you can hear your own pulse with this type of tinnitus, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. There’s more power behind each heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. High blood pressure is treatable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you need to make an appointment for a hearing examination if you suspect you are experiencing any amount of hearing impairment.
3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia
You may have a greater risk of dementia if you have hearing loss. Nearly 2000 people were studied over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the study revealed that even with minor hearing loss (about 25 dB), the danger of dementia rises by 24%. Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than a decade, revealed that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. They also uncovered a similar connection 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 severe hearing loss.
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.