Your hearing health is linked to numerous other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is linked to your health.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency tones, individuals 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. Impairment was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but less severe. The researchers also found that subjects who were pre-diabetic, put simply, those who have 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 regular blood sugar levels. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study revealed a consistent connection between hearing loss and diabetes.
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is related to an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at an increased danger of experiencing hearing loss? When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have an explanation. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health problems, and particularly, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and limbs. It’s possible that diabetes has a similar harmful affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it may also be associated with general health management. Individuals who failed to deal with or control their diabetes had worse outcomes according to one study carried out on military veterans. It’s essential to have a doctor test 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 connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. The results are consistent even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. The only variable that appears to make a difference is gender: If you’re a male, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.
Your ears aren’t a component 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 main arteries go right near it. Individuals with high blood pressure, often, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the cause 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 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 force with every beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. Both medical intervention and lifestyle changes can be used to help regulate high blood pressure. But you need to schedule an appointment for a hearing test if you suspect you are experiencing any degree of hearing loss.
3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia
Hearing loss might put you at a higher risk of dementia. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that followed nearly 2,000 people over six years found that the chance of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). And the worse the degree of hearing loss, the higher the risk of dementia, according to another study carried out over a decade by the same researchers. They also discovered a similar link to Alzheimer’s Disease. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, based on these findings, than somebody with functional hearing. Extreme hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.
The truth is, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, you need to get it evaluated and treated. Your health depends on it.