Your hearing health is connected to many other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Your hearing is connected to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency tones, individuals with diabetes were twice as likely to have mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that observed over 5,000 adults. Hearing loss was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but not as severe. 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 discovered a consistent link between diabetes and hearing loss.
So it’s pretty established that diabetes is connected to an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health issues, and in particular, can lead to physical damage to the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. It’s feasible that diabetes has a similar damaging affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it might also be associated with overall health management. People who failed to deal with or control their diabetes had worse outcomes according to one study performed on military veterans. If you are concerned that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to consult with a doctor and have your blood sugar tested.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Harm Your Ears
Numerous studies have revealed that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually speed up age-related hearing loss. The results are consistent even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. Gender appears to be the only variable that makes a difference: If you’re a male, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re in close relation to it: Two of your body’s main arteries run right past your ears in addition to the presence of tiny blood vessels inside your ears. This is one reason why those with high blood pressure often experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical damage to your ears, that’s the main hypothesis behind why it would speed up hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind every beat. The smaller blood vessels in your ears can be damaged by this. High blood pressure is manageable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you should schedule an appointment for a hearing test if you suspect you are experiencing any degree of hearing impairment.
3. Dementia And Hearing Loss
You may have a higher chance of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Research from Johns Hopkins University that followed almost 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 danger of dementia, according to another study carried out over a decade by the same researchers. They also uncovered a similar connection to Alzheimer’s Disease. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, according to these findings, than someone with normal hearing. The danger rises to 4 times with severe hearing loss.
The bottom line is, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, you need to get it tested and treated. It’s about your state of health.