Your hearing health is connected to many other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Your hearing is related to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
A widely-cited study that looked at more than 5,000 adults determined that people who had been diagnosed with diabetes were twice as likely to suffer mild or worse hearing loss when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. Hearing loss was also more likely with high-frequency tones, but less severe. This same research revealed 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 link between diabetes and hearing loss.
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is related to an increased risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at an increased danger of suffering from hearing impairment? When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have the answers. A whole variety of health issues have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the extremities, kidneys, and eyes. One hypothesis is that the condition may affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But management of your general health might also be a relevant possibility. People who failed to treat or manage their diabetes had worse outcomes according to one study carried out on military veterans. If you are concerned that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to talk to a doctor and get your blood sugar checked.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Damage Your Ears
It is well known that high blood pressure has a connection to, if not accelerates, hearing loss. The results are consistent even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. The only variable that seems to make a difference is gender: If you’re a man, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.
The ears and the circulatory system have a direct relationship: Besides the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s main arteries run right near 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 cause physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would speed up hearing loss. There’s more force with each heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. The smaller blood vessels in your ears can be damaged by this. Both medical intervention and lifestyle changes can be used to help regulate high blood pressure. But you need to make an appointment for a hearing test if you suspect you are experiencing any degree of hearing loss.
3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia
Hearing loss may put you at a higher risk of dementia. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that observed nearly 2,000 patients over the course of six years found that the risk of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (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 uncovered a similar connection to Alzheimer’s Disease. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, based on these findings, than someone with normal hearing. Severe hearing loss puts you at nearly 4x the risk.
It’s crucial, then, to have your hearing tested. Your health depends on it.