Your hearing health is linked to numerous other health conditions, from depression to dementia. Your hearing is connected to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
A widely-cited study that looked at more than 5,000 adults revealed that individuals who had been diagnosed with diabetes were twice as likely to suffer mild or worse hearing impairment when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. With high-frequency sounds, hearing impairment was not as severe but was also more likely. This same research reported that people who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing impairment. A more recent meta-study discovered that the link between hearing loss and diabetes was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.
So a greater danger of hearing loss is firmly linked to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at an increased danger of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. A whole variety of health issues have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the extremities, eyes, and kidneys. It’s feasible that diabetes has a similar damaging affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But management of overall health might also be a relevant possibility. A study that looked at military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it revealed that those with uncontrolled diabetes, essentially, individuals who are not monitoring their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s essential to have a doctor test your blood sugar if you suspect you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Damaged 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 could actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. Even when adjusting for variables such as whether you smoke or your level of noise exposure, the results are solid. Gender appears to be the only variable that matters: Males who have high blood pressure are at a higher danger 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 inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries run right near it. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure frequently suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The foremost theory why high blood pressure would speed up hearing loss is that high blood pressure can cause physical damage to your ears. There’s more force with each heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. The smaller blood vessels in your ears can be injured by this. 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 think you are experiencing any degree of hearing impairment.
3. Dementia And Hearing Loss
You might have a higher chance of dementia if you have hearing loss. Research from Johns Hopkins University that followed nearly 2,000 patients over six years found that the chance 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 a decade, discovered that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. These studies also revealed that Alzheimer’s had an equivalent link to hearing loss. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, based on these findings, than someone with functional hearing. The risk rises to 4 times with severe hearing loss.
The bottom line is, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, you should get it tested and treated. Your health depends on it.