From depression to dementia, numerous other health problems 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, individuals with diabetes were twice as likely to have mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that evaluated over 5,000 adults. With high-frequency sounds, hearing loss was not as severe but was also more likely. This same research revealed 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 hearing loss and diabetes.
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is related to an increased risk of hearing impairment. But the significant question is why is there a connection. When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have the answers. A whole range of health issues have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, kidneys, and eyes. It’s feasible that diabetes has a similar damaging impact on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it may also be related to overall health management. Individuals who failed to treat or control their diabetes had worse outcomes according to one study carried out on military veterans. If you are concerned that you may be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to consult with a doctor and get your blood sugar tested.
2. Your Ears Can be Harmed by High Blood Pressure
Multiple studies have shown 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. Even when taking into consideration variables such as whether you smoke or your level of noise exposure, the results are solid. Gender seems to be the only variable that matters: If you’re a male, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.
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 run right by it. This is one reason why those with high blood pressure frequently experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. Because you can hear your own pulse with this type of tinnitus, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical harm 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 power behind each beat. The smaller blood vessels in your ears can be injured by this. High blood pressure is treatable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you should make an appointment for a hearing test if you suspect you are experiencing any degree of hearing loss.
3. Hearing Loss And Dementia
Hearing loss might put you at a greater risk of dementia. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that followed nearly 2,000 patients over six years found that the danger of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing impairment (about 25 dB). Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than 10 years, discovered that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. They also found 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. The risk goes up to 4 times with severe hearing loss.
It’s crucial, then, to have your hearing tested. Your health depends on it.