From depression to dementia, many 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
A widely-cited study that evaluated more than 5,000 adults revealed that individuals who had been diagnosed with diabetes were twice as likely to experience mild or worse hearing impairment when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. With high-frequency sounds, hearing impairment was not as severe but was also more likely. The researchers also discovered 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 people with normal blood sugar levels. A more recent meta-study revealed that the connection between diabetes and hearing loss was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So it’s pretty recognized that diabetes is linked to an increased risk of hearing loss. But the real question is why is there a link. When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have the answers. A whole variety of health issues have been linked to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, eyes, and kidneys. One theory is that the condition could affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But management of your general health could also be a relevant possibility. Research that looked at military veterans underscored the connection between hearing impairment and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who are not managing their blood sugar or otherwise taking care of the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are worried that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to speak to a doctor and get your blood sugar checked.
2. Your Ears Can be Harmed by High Blood Pressure
Multiple studies have revealed 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. Even when adjusting for variables like whether you smoke or your amount of noise exposure, the results are consistent. The only variable that seems to matter is gender: Males with high blood pressure are at a higher danger of hearing loss.
Your ears aren’t a component 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 go right by it. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure frequently experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is really their own blood pumping. Because you can hear your own pulse with this kind of tinnitus, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would speed up hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force with each beat. The smaller blood vessels inside of your ears can be injured by this. High blood pressure is treatable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re suffering from hearing loss, even if you think you’re not old enough for age-related hearing loss, you should make an appointment to see us.
3. Dementia And Hearing Impairment
You might have a higher risk of dementia if you have hearing loss. Research from Johns Hopkins University that followed almost 2,000 people over the course of six years discovered that the risk of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing impairment (about 25 dB). 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 found a similar link to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these results, moderate hearing impairment puts you at 3X the chance of somebody without hearing loss. Extreme hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.
It’s essential, then, to get your hearing tested. It’s about your state of health.