Your hearing health is linked to numerous other health conditions, from depression to dementia. Your hearing is related to your health in the following ways.
1. your Hearing is Impacted by Diabetes
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, individuals 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. Impairment 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 loss. A more recent meta-study found that the connection between hearing loss and diabetes was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So an increased danger of hearing loss is solidly linked to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of suffering from hearing impairment? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. A whole variety of health problems have been linked to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, eyes, and kidneys. One hypothesis is that the disease might impact the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be related to general health management. A study that observed military veterans underscored the connection between hearing impairment and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, essentially, people who are not managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are worried that you may be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to talk to a doctor and get your blood sugar checked.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Damage Your Ears
Numerous studies have shown 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. The results are consistent even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. The only variable that seems to make a difference is gender: Males who have high blood pressure are at a greater risk of hearing loss.
The ears and the circulatory system have a close relationship: Besides the numerous tiny blood vessels in 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. The foremost theory why high blood pressure would speed up hearing loss is that high blood pressure can cause physical harm to your ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more power with every beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. Both medical treatment and lifestyle changes can be used to help regulate high blood pressure. But you should make an appointment for a hearing examination if you suspect you are developing any amount of hearing impairment.
3. Dementia And Hearing Impairment
You might have a higher risk of dementia if you have hearing loss. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that observed nearly 2,000 patients over six years found that the risk of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). And the worse the degree of hearing loss, the higher the danger of dementia, according to another study conducted over 10 years by the same researchers. They also uncovered a similar link to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these results, moderate hearing impairment puts you at 3X the risk of someone without hearing loss. Severe hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.
It’s essential, then, to have your hearing examined. It’s about your state of health.