From depression to dementia, many other health problems are connected to the health of your hearing. Your hearing is connected to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
A widely-cited study that examined more than 5,000 adults determined that people who had been diagnosed with diabetes were twice as likely to experience mild or worse hearing loss when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. With high-frequency sounds, hearing impairment was not as severe but was also more likely. This same research reported that people who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing impairment. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study found a consistent connection between diabetes and hearing loss.
So a greater danger of hearing loss is firmly linked to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at an increased danger of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide variety of health problems, and in particular, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. One theory is that the condition could impact the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it might also be associated with general health management. Individuals who failed to treat or manage 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 believe you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure
Multiple studies have revealed that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually accelerate 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. The only variable that appears to matter is gender: If you’re a man, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.
The circulatory system and the ears have a direct relationship: Two of your body’s primary arteries run right by your ears besides the presence of tiny blood vessels inside your ears. People 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. The leading theory why high blood pressure would accelerate hearing loss is that high blood pressure can lead to physical damage to your ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. High blood pressure is treatable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you need to schedule an appointment for a hearing examination if you suspect you are experiencing any degree of hearing loss.
3. Dementia And Hearing Loss
You may have a greater risk of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Research from Johns Hopkins University that followed nearly 2,000 people over six years found that the risk of cognitive deterioration increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). And the worse the level of hearing impairment, the higher the danger of dementia, according to another study conducted over a decade by the same researchers. They also discovered a similar connection to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these results, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the chance of someone without hearing loss. Severe hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.
It’s crucial, then, to have your hearing examined. It’s about your state of health.