From depression to dementia, many other health problems are connected to the health of your hearing. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is related to your health.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, people with diabetes were twice as likely to experience mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that looked at over 5,000 adults. With high-frequency sounds, hearing impairment was not as severe but was also more likely. This same research reported that individuals 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 a greater danger of hearing loss is firmly connected to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health issues, and particularly, can cause physical damage to the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One theory is that the condition might impact the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it might also be related to overall health management. Individuals who failed to deal with or manage their diabetes had worse outcomes according to one study conducted on military veterans. If you are concerned that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to speak to a doctor and have your blood sugar checked.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Harm Your Ears
It is well established that high blood pressure has a connection to, if not accelerates, 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 appears to make a difference is gender: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it: Besides the numerous tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries go right by it. Individuals with high blood pressure, often, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the cause of their tinnitus. Because you can hear your own pulse with this type of tinnitus, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially lead to physical harm 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 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 make an appointment for a hearing test if you suspect you are experiencing any amount of hearing impairment.
3. Dementia And Hearing Impairment
Hearing loss might put you at a higher chance of dementia. Research from Johns Hopkins University that followed nearly 2,000 people over the course of six years found that the risk of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). And the worse the level of hearing impairment, the higher the risk of dementia, according to another study conducted over a decade by the same researchers. They also uncovered a similar connection to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these results, moderate hearing impairment puts you at 3X the risk of someone without hearing loss. The danger goes up to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.
It’s essential, then, to have your hearing examined. It’s about your state of health.