Your hearing health is linked to numerous other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Your hearing is linked to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency tones, individuals with diabetes were two times as likely to experience mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that observed over 5,000 adults. With high-frequency sounds, hearing loss 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 impairment. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study revealed a consistent connection between diabetes and hearing loss.
So an increased risk of hearing loss is firmly linked to diabetes. But the real question is why is there a link. Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health concerns, and particularly, can result in physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and limbs. It’s possible that diabetes has a similar damaging impact on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But management of your general health might also be a relevant possibility. A study that looked at military veterans underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, essentially, people who are not monitoring their blood sugar or otherwise taking care of the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s important to have a doctor test your blood sugar if you believe you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Harmed by High Blood Pressure
Multiple studies have demonstrated that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually speed up age-related hearing loss. Even when taking into consideration variables like whether you smoke or your amount of noise exposure, the results are solid. The only variable that seems to make a difference is gender: If you’re a male, 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 in close relation to it: In addition to the numerous tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right near it. People with high blood pressure, often, 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. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical harm to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would accelerate 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 manageable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you should schedule an appointment for a hearing test if you think you are developing any degree of hearing impairment.
3. Dementia And Hearing Impairment
Hearing loss might put you at a greater chance of dementia. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that observed almost 2,000 patients over six years discovered that the chance of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). And the worse the level of hearing loss, the higher the risk 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 findings, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the chance of someone without hearing loss. Severe hearing loss puts you at nearly 4x the risk.
The bottom line is, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, you should get it evaluated and treated. Your health depends on it.