Your hearing health is linked to many other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Your hearing is connected to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
A widely-cited study that evaluated over 5,000 adults determined that people who had been diagnosed with diabetes were twice as likely to experience mild or worse hearing impairment when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. Hearing loss was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but not as severe. 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 revealed a consistent link between diabetes and hearing loss.
So an increased risk of hearing loss is firmly connected to diabetes. But the significant question is why is there a link. Science is at somewhat of a loss here. A whole range of health concerns have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the extremities, eyes, and kidneys. It’s possible that diabetes has a similar damaging impact on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it could also be related to overall health management. Individuals who failed to deal with or manage their diabetes had worse consequences according to one study conducted on military veterans. It’s important to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you believe you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Harmed by High Blood Pressure
It is well established that high blood pressure plays a part in, if not accelerates, hearing loss. Even when taking into consideration variables such as whether you smoke or your amount of noise exposure, the results are solid. The only variable that appears to make a difference is gender: Men with high blood pressure are at a greater danger of hearing loss.
The ears and the circulatory system have a close relationship: Two of your body’s main arteries run right past your ears besides the presence of tiny blood vessels inside your ears. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is really 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 lead to physical damage to your ears, that’s the main hypothesis behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more power with each beat. The smaller blood vessels in your ears can be damaged by this. High blood pressure is treatable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you should make an appointment for a hearing examination if you think you are experiencing any amount of hearing loss.
3. Dementia And Hearing Impairment
Hearing loss might put you at a higher risk of dementia. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that followed almost 2,000 patients over six years found 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 10 years by the same researchers. These studies also revealed that Alzheimer’s had a similar link to hearing loss. Based on these findings, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the chance of somebody without hearing loss. The danger goes up 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.