From depression to dementia, many other health conditions are connected to the health of your hearing. Your hearing is linked to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
A widely-cited study that observed more than 5,000 adults determined that individuals who had been diagnosed with diabetes were two times as likely to suffer mild or worse hearing loss when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. Impairment was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but less severe. This same research revealed that people 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 discovered a consistent connection between diabetes and hearing loss.
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is linked to an increased danger of hearing impairment. But the real question is why is there a connection. When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have an explanation. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health problems, and particularly, can lead to physical damage to the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One hypothesis is that the condition might affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it might also be associated with overall health management. Research that looked at military veterans highlighted the link between hearing impairment and diabetes, but in particular, it revealed that those with uncontrolled diabetes, essentially, individuals who are not managing their blood sugar or otherwise taking care of the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s essential to have a doctor test your blood sugar if you believe you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Harmed by High Blood Pressure
Numerous studies have shown that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually speed up age-related hearing loss. Even when adjusting for variables like whether you smoke or your level of noise exposure, the results are solid. Gender appears to be the only variable that makes a difference: Men who have high blood pressure are at a greater risk of hearing loss.
The ears and the circulatory system have a close relationship: In addition to the many tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries go right near it. People with high blood pressure, in many cases, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the cause of their tinnitus. That’s why this kind 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 cause physical damage to your ears. There’s more power behind every heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. The smaller blood vessels inside of 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 schedule an appointment for a hearing test if you suspect you are developing any degree of hearing impairment.
3. Hearing Loss And Dementia
Hearing loss might put you at a greater risk of dementia. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that observed almost 2,000 people 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, discovered 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, according to these findings, than somebody with functional hearing. Severe hearing loss puts you at nearly 4x the risk.
The truth is, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, you need to get it tested and treated. It’s about your state of health.