Your hearing health is linked to many other health conditions, from depression to dementia. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is connected to your health.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency tones, people with diabetes were twice as likely to experience mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that evaluated over 5,000 adults. Hearing loss was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but less severe. This same research reported that people 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 hearing loss and diabetes.
So an increased risk of hearing loss is firmly linked to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at an increased danger of experiencing hearing impairment? 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 eyes, kidneys, and extremities. It’s feasible that diabetes has a similar damaging impact on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it may also be related to general health management. Research that looked at military veterans highlighted the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it revealed that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not monitoring their blood sugar or otherwise taking care of the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are worried that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to consult with a doctor and have your blood sugar tested.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Harm Your Ears
Multiple studies have demonstrated that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually speed up age-related hearing loss. Even when taking into consideration variables such as whether you smoke or your amount of noise exposure, the results are consistent. 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 ears and the circulatory system have a close relationship: Two of your body’s main arteries run right by your ears in addition to the presence of tiny blood vessels inside your ears. 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 type of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more power with each beat. The smaller blood vessels inside of your ears can be injured by this. High blood pressure is treatable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you should schedule an appointment for a hearing test if you suspect you are developing any degree of hearing loss.
3. Dementia And Hearing Impairment
You may have a higher chance of dementia if you have hearing loss. Nearly 2000 people were analyzed over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the study revealed that even with mild hearing loss (about 25 dB), the risk of dementia rises by 24%. Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than 10 years, found that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. They also discovered a similar link to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these findings, moderate hearing impairment 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 tested and treated. It’s about your state of health.