From depression to dementia, numerous other health conditions are linked to your hearing health. Your hearing is connected to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, people with diabetes were two times as likely to have mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that looked at over 5,000 adults. With high-frequency sounds, hearing loss 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 impairment. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study found a consistent connection between hearing loss and diabetes.
So it’s pretty recognized that diabetes is linked to an increased risk of hearing impairment. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is linked 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 disease may affect the ears in an equivalent way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But management of overall health could also be a relevant possibility. Individuals who failed to treat or control their diabetes had worse consequences according to one study performed on military veterans. If you are worried that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to consult with a doctor and get your blood sugar checked.
2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure
Numerous studies have shown 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 such as whether you smoke or your amount of noise exposure, the results are consistent. 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.
The circulatory system and the ears have a close relationship: Two of your body’s primary arteries go 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 cause of their tinnitus. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical harm to your ears, that’s the main hypothesis behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. There’s more power behind every heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. The smaller blood vessels in your ears can be damaged by this. Both medical treatment and lifestyle changes can be used to help manage high blood pressure. But you should schedule an appointment for a hearing test if you suspect you are developing any degree of hearing impairment.
3. Dementia And Hearing Loss
You might have a higher chance of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Almost 2000 people were examined over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the research revealed that even with minor hearing loss (about 25 dB), the danger of dementia increases 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. This research also revealed that Alzheimer’s had a similar connection to hearing loss. Based on these results, moderate hearing impairment puts you at 3X the risk of someone without hearing loss. Extreme hearing loss puts you at nearly 4x the risk.
It’s crucial, then, to get your hearing examined. Your health depends on it.