From depression to dementia, numerous other health conditions are connected to your hearing health. Your hearing is related to your health in the following ways.
1. your Hearing is Affected by Diabetes
A widely-cited study that examined over 5,000 adults found that people who had been diagnosed with diabetes were two times as likely to experience mild or worse hearing loss when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. With high-frequency sounds, hearing impairment was not as severe but was also more likely. The researchers also found that subjects who were pre-diabetic, put simply, those with blood sugar levels that are elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes were 30 percent more likely to have hearing impairment than those with regular blood sugar levels. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study revealed a consistent connection between hearing loss and diabetes.
So a greater risk of hearing loss is firmly linked to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of suffering from hearing impairment? Science is at a bit of a loss here. A whole range of health problems have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, kidneys, and eyes. One hypothesis is that the disease could affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it might also be associated with overall health management. A study that looked at military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it revealed that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, people who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise taking care of the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s important to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you think you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Damage Your Ears
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 consistent. The only variable that appears to make a difference is gender: Males with high blood pressure are at a higher danger of hearing loss.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it: In addition to the many tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s main arteries run right near it. People with high blood pressure, often, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the source of their tinnitus. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in 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 force behind every beat. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Both medical treatment and lifestyle changes can be used to help manage high blood pressure. But you should schedule an appointment for a hearing test if you think you are experiencing any amount of hearing loss.
3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia
Hearing loss may put you at a greater risk of dementia. Nearly 2000 people were studied over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the study revealed that even with minor hearing loss (about 25 dB), the danger of dementia increases by 24%. Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than 10 years, found that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. These studies also demonstrated that Alzheimer’s had an equivalent link to hearing loss. Based on these findings, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the chance of someone without hearing loss. The risk goes up to 4 times with severe hearing loss.
The bottom line is, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, you need to get it evaluated and treated. It’s about your state of health.