Your hearing health is connected to many other health conditions, from depression to dementia. Your hearing is related to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency tones, people with diabetes were twice as likely to experience mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that evaluated over 5,000 adults. With high-frequency sounds, hearing impairment was not as severe but was also more likely. The researchers also discovered that subjects who were pre-diabetic, in other words, those who have blood sugar levels that are elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes were 30% more likely to have hearing loss than people with regular blood sugar levels. A more recent meta-study found that the link between hearing loss and diabetes was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So it’s pretty recognized that diabetes is connected to an increased risk of hearing loss. But the real question is why is there a link. When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have an explanation. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health issues, and particularly, can result in physical damage to the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. It’s feasible 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 highlighted the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it revealed that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are worried that you may be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to consult with a doctor and have your blood sugar checked.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Damage Your Ears
It is well established that high blood pressure has a connection to, if not accelerates, hearing loss. The results are consistent even when taking into consideration variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. The only variable that seems to make a difference is gender: Males with high blood pressure are at a greater risk of hearing loss.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it: Besides the many tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries go right near it. This is one reason why those who have high blood pressure frequently experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is really their own blood pumping. That’s why this type of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The foremost theory why high blood pressure would speed up hearing loss is that high blood pressure can lead to physical harm to your ears. There’s more force behind each heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. High blood pressure is treatable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you need to schedule an appointment for a hearing examination if you suspect you are experiencing any amount of hearing impairment.
3. Dementia And Hearing Loss
You might have a greater chance of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Research from Johns Hopkins University that observed almost 2,000 patients over six years found that the chance of cognitive deterioration increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than a decade, found 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. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, based on these findings, than somebody with functional hearing. The danger goes up to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.
It’s essential, then, to get your hearing examined. It’s about your state of health.